My Bike rolls out customized bikes for Western Pennsylvania youths with disabilities
Typical childhood rites of passage, such as unsupervised play outside, were out of reach for Matthew Resh.
Resh's rare genetic disorder, 8P lesion duplication and deletion syndrome, gives him low body tone and places him at a second-grade level academically, even though he's 21, said his mother, Jane Resh, 50, of Richland.
Six years ago, her son reached a milestone with help from a Robinson charity: He rode a bicycle for the first time, she said.
“There's very few things that give him that sense of independence,” Resh said.
Variety the Children's Charity of Pittsburgh gave Matthew Resh an adaptive bike, customized to meet his needs. The three-wheeled cycle has a pulley system to help him pedal, a backrest and a seat belt. His parents can operate its rear braking and steering devices in an emergency.
“I (have) so much fun with it. Everyone should learn to ride a bike,” said Resh, who rides his bike several times a week when weather permits.
Variety, a nonprofit organization, provides programs and services to people 21 and younger with disabilities. It began giving adaptive bikes a decade ago, under its Kids on the Go mobility program, and is starting My Bike to increase access to bikes in its 10-county service area, including Allegheny, Washington and Westmoreland counties, CEO Charles P. LaVallee said.
The bikes can improve riders' social and physical wellbeing, but at about $1,800 apiece they can be too costly for many families, he said. Many parents instead apply for chair lifts or wheelchairs from Kids on the Go, he said.
On Monday, Gov. Tom Corbett will help the organization kick off its My Bike program at PNC Park to encourage parents of disabled children to contact Variety and suggest that businesses become program sponsors, spokeswoman Christine Cronkright said.
Highmark Inc., the state's largest insurer, donated $55,000 to pay for 10 bikes and development of outreach materials.
“We're excited about the opportunity to serve as a model for others to do similar things,” said Variety board president Deborah Rice-Johnson, Highmark's division president of health services.
Variety's board members solicited donations and pledges worth $73,800 for 41 bikes. LaVallee hopes to have commitments for 100 bikes by Christmas.
At Variety's 85th anniversary celebration on Friday, a Build-a-Bike station raised about $19,000 for My Bike.
Although adaptive bikes typically have three wheels, Variety avoids describing them as tricycles because older riders can use them, LaVallee said.
Riding them can improve a person's trunk strength, cardiovascular endurance and motor skills, said Joseph Schreiber, president of the Alexandria, Va.-based American Physical Therapy Association's pediatric section and an associate professor of physical therapy at Chatham University.
Since receiving an adaptive bike from Variety last year, Kamryn Lambert, 11, has progressed from simply pedaling to turning. Her twin, Kyara, is still adjusting to the bike she received in August, said their mother, Kym Lambert, 37, of Washington.
Soon after their premature births, the girls were diagnosed with periventricular leukomalacia — strokes delayed their development — but bike riding is one of the few activities they can do without full assistance, Lambert said.
“They know how to pedal and go fast. They love that,” Lambert said, noting the girls' school agreed to store the bikes this winter for use in their physical therapy.
Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers opt for youth, speed while revamping roster
- Steelers finalize 53-man roster
- Pirates’ Polanco runs into rookie wall
- 3 wrecks Saturday keep emergency responders busy
- States clear way for startups to use crowdfunding
- Versatile U-PARC houses productive assortment
- TCS transcends small beginnings
- U-PARC gives NEP Broadcasting space to grow
- New Kensington-Arnold continues to shuffle security staff
- Carnegie Mellon grad’s tweak to tweets turns 7
- Starkey: Pitt does its duty