Woodward, Okla. —
A child's first bicycle can often be as exciting for the parents as it is for the child.
But for the parents and grandparents of children with certain disabilities, that exciting experience may feel out of their reach.
That's why AMBUCS, a national service organization dedicated to creating mobility and independence for people with disabilities, has created the AmTryke program.
The AmTryke is a therapeutic tricycle designed and developed by physical therapists especially for children and adults who face a variety of physical, neurological or developmental disorders, so that they too can enjoy the experience of riding their own cycles.
Thanks to the Woodward Mid-Day AMBUCS, 2 area families recently got to enjoy their child's first bicycle experience.
In honor of October being National AmTryke Month, the local AMBUCS club presented 9-year-old Shane Holcom-Fry, of Alva, and 17-year-old Clarissa Arrey, of Vici, with their own AmTrykes.
"I just want to ride my bike," the 3rd grader Shane said after being shown his new AmTryke. "It's awesome."
The more reserved Clarissa simply said, "I like it" when receiving her AmTryke, but showed off a big grin once placed on it for her first ride.
And as both children smiled at seeing their new cycles during their recent presentation ceremonies, their guardians were beaming with joy right along with them.
"This is her first bike and for us it's a big deal," Clarissa's mother Stacey Arguello said.
A CHANCE TO RIDE
Both Clarissa's parents and Shane's grandparents had desperately wanted their children to share with their peers in enjoying going for bicycle rides. They had even purchased traditional bicycles for their children, but soon learned that Shane's and Clarissa's physical limitations wouldn't allow them to operate the bikes normally.
Clarissa is diagnosed with cerebral palsy while Shane has been diagnosed with macrocephaly, hydrocephaly and both cognitive and physical developmental deficits.
"We always wanted her (Clarissa) to have a bike," Arguello said. "We even tried to make her one when she was younger by modifying a regular bike, but it didn't work out."
Shane's grandmother Donna Holcom shared how upset her grandson became when he realized that he didn't have a bicycle like other boys and girls his age.
"Two or three years ago, they had a bicycle safety presentation at his school," Donna Holcom said. "He came home crying, saying 'boohoo, I don't have a bicycle.' So we went out and got a regular bike for him, but he can't sit on it himself. I have to hold on to him while he's on it. And he can't pedal it himself, so I push him up and down the street."
However, with their new AmTrykes, Clarissa and Shane can begin building up their strength, coordination, range of motion, and mobility so that maybe they soon will be wheeling around on their own.
"I like for him to do what other kids do," Donna Holcom said of Shane. "Sometimes it's hard though and with him getting bigger, it's harder to pick him up anymore. So this AmTryke will allow him to be more mobile on his own."
AMTRYKES MAKE EXERCISE ENTERTAINING
Both families said they are each somewhat familiar with AmTrykes as Clarissa and Shane have used them before. And they are happy that the children have new AmTrykes they can now enjoy at home.
Arguello said her daughter has been using a shared AmTryke for physical therapy at school for almost 2 years.
After seeing how much the AmTryke was helping her at school, and how much Clarissa actually enjoyed using it, Arguello said they wanted to get one for her to use at home as well.
"It's the one thing she actually likes out of all the equipment. She has a stander at home and a walker, but she gets tired of them pretty quickly. But with the AmTryke, she really likes it," Arguello said.
"It's a lot funner than the rest of the stuff," Clarissa said.
"Because it's more like enjoying a real bike than exercising," her mom said. "It's not a chore, more like entertainment."
So the family asked Clarissa's physical therapist Ashley Fanning about it and Fanning told them she could get with the Mid-Day AMBUCS to see about purchasing a personal AmTryke for Clarissa.
However, the one at Clarissa's school is rigged up to be used on a treadmill because Clarissa hasn't been strong enough to pedal the trike on her own and the treadmill allows her to ride it without someone else having to constantly help her or push her around.
But seeing Clarissa test out her new AmTryke with Fanning helping her to pedal around the room, Arguello is hopeful that with continued use the 17-year-old might eventually become strong enough to pedal on her own.
"To see her on it, she looks really good on it," Arguello said.
For Shane, his grandparents said it's been at least 3 years since he last used an AmTryke after he simply outgrew his previous one, which had been a smaller model designed for younger children.
"He had the little one, but he just got too long-legged for it anymore. And when he outgrew it, we just put it away in the shed," Donna Holcom said.
But when her husband Clyde Holcom recently went to clean out the shed, he said he decided to ask Shane's physical therapist about donating the old tricycle and getting him a new larger sized one. The therapist then helped fill out a request form for the new AmTryke and connected the family with the Mid-Day AMBUCS to help pay for the new model.
His grandparents are excited about how the new AmTryke will give him more entertainment and exercise options.
"I think it's awesome," Clyde Holcom said. "Anything to benefit him is awesome and it will keep his exercise going, instead of him just sitting on a bed watching TV."
In addition to keeping him active, the AmTryke will help Shane keep up with his siblings, Donna Holcom said.
"He has 2 younger half-sisters who spend the weekend with us every other weekend and they like to ride bikes. The older one really likes to zoom, zoom up and down the sidewalk and he tries to run after them but he can't really keep up," she said. "Now he has a shot to keep up. And once we get him going on the AmTryke, he'll wonder what he's missed out on all this time."
Both families were grateful to the Woodward Mid-Day AMBUCS for helping to provide their children with their new rides.
"We're excited because it will allow us to do more than we're able to do now and it gets her (Clarissa) therapy in the summer," Arguello said.
"I just think it's fantastic that they have this for kids like him (Shane)," Donna Holcom said.
For more information about AmTrykes, visit the AMBUCS website at www.ambucs.org/AmTrykeInfo/.