One event was loud, sweaty and full of energy. The other was just as energetic and featured interested families and eager kids. Both events highlighted biking and were a big success.
Gillette Children's recently hosted Pedal in Place and the Adapted Bike Expo at Lifetime Fitness in Lakeville, Minnesota. The two events work in tandem to help kids of all abilities experience the joy that comes from riding a bike.
About 150 people participated in the relay-style stationary bike Pedal in Place race. Teams of 10 riders competed to raise money for grants to help buy bikes and trikes that are specially adapted for kids who have disabilities. In the second floor bike studio the music was pumping as riders pedaled and cheered.
Eighteen teams raised about $30,000 to provide grant money so families can purchase adapted bikes for their children. These special bikes and trikes can be costly and run from $1,500 to more than $7,000 depending on the model and specifications needed.
While the Pedal in Place riders worked up a sweat, 275 people were a floor below for the Adapted Bike Expo to test-ride bicycles and tricycles. Families traveled from throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin to attend the expo. Seven bike vendors from Canada, Pennsylvania, Iowa and Minnesota helped families learn about the bikes and invited kids to take a ride. Members of the Gillette therapeutic recreation department assisted and made sure each rider was safe and had fun.
Kiara Frenstad, 11, and her mother, Michelle, traveled from their home in Northfield, Minnesota and had their eye on a specific adapted bike.
"I love to bike," Kiara says. "I have balance issues and muscle weakness and about two years ago, I tried riding my brother's traditional bike and took a bad fall. It was not good!"
"That's an understatement!" her mother exclaims. "The handlebars from the bike went into her chest and sternum. This area is especially sensitive for Kiara because she has issues breathing and muscle weakness in her trunk and core. Once she fell my husband said, 'That's it. We need to get Kiara a special bike.' So we're very happy Gillette hosted this bike expo."
At first Kiara tried a bike her therapist at Gillette recommended but the high handle bars and seating arrangement were not the best for her. "That's the great thing about this expo," Michelle says. "They have so many different bikes and vendors. The one-stop shopping makes it so easy."
Kiara settled on a Hase TRIX bike. She and her mom are especially glad that the steering for the bike is down near her legs.
"We just love the Gillette message of CAN," Michelle beams. "Now Kiara CAN ride a bike. We're very happy and grateful."