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Valley News Dispatch

Adaptive bikes open the road to disabled children

Mary Ann Thomas
| Tuesday, May 15, 2018, 4:54 p.m.
Dylan Mendenhall rides his new adaptive bicycle around the Pittsburgh Mills mall with the assistance of his mother, Nancy Burgess, on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Dylan Mendenhall rides his new adaptive bicycle around the Pittsburgh Mills mall with the assistance of his mother, Nancy Burgess, on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.
Variety - The Children's Charity program and special events Manager Shayna Zayac gets a high five from Lukas Scears, 13, of Valencia, after receiving his new adaptive bicycle on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Variety - The Children's Charity program and special events Manager Shayna Zayac gets a high five from Lukas Scears, 13, of Valencia, after receiving his new adaptive bicycle on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.

Dylan Mendenhall's new, adaptive three-wheeled bicycle means he can ride his bike to the park when he couldn't before, according to his mother, Nancy Burgess.

Mendenhall, 15, of Springdale Township, who is autistic, received a bike worth $1,800 from Variety — the Children's Charity, which was specially fitted for him by Blackburn's Physicians Pharmacy.

"He needs this bike to be more mobile and active," she said. "He does not have the coordination or balance to ride a two-wheeled bike."

Luke Scears, 13, of Pine Township, who is autistic, also received an adaptive bike.

"This gives him freedom," said he mother, Lori Scears. "It allows him to feel like any other kid."

The bikes were among seven adaptive bikes, 13 adaptive strollers and 20 communication devices worth more than $56,000 given to special needs children at the Pittsburgh Mills mall in Frazer on Tuesday.

Variety offers equipment, programs and opportunities for income-eligible disabled children in 42 counties in Pennsylvania and 12 counties in West Virginia.

The equipment, such as the adaptive bikes, allows the children to do things and participate in activities, according to Charles LaVallee, CEO, or, rather, what he calls "chief excitement officer" for Variety.

"They aren't going to be invisible anymore," he said. "They're going to be out riding with their brothers and sisters."

The free bikes fill an important need for disabled children, according to Ron Rukas, president of Blackburn's.

"Normally, health care insurance will pay for wheelchairs and equipment, but not adaptive bikes," he said.

Blackburn's measured the children and customized the fit of the bike to suit each child.

Variety's "My Bike" program launched in 2012 followed by "My Stroller" and "My Voice" programs. Since then, nearly 2,500 adaptive bikes, strollers and communication devices have been given to children worth nearly $3.7 million.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4691, mthomas@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MaThomas_Trib.

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