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'My Bike' program targets special needs children in Armstrong County

| Friday, Feb. 8, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Logan McGinnis, 13, shows off his bike riding skills as his mother, Chastity KIng, and Charles LaVallee , CEO of Variety , cheer him on during the ' My Bike ' kickoff at ACMH Hospital. 020713 Brigid Beatty I Leader Times/

EAST FRANKLIN – Logan McGinnis, 13, of Kittanning Township, is proud of his new bike.

“He's on it every night,” said his mom, Chastity King, who calls Logan her miracle boy.

She said that it is nothing short of a miracle that Logan survived being hit by a car at the age of 4. He sustained a brain injury as a result of the accident and has had multiple surgeries on his legs since 2010.

So it was a big deal when Logan received his adaptive bike in December from Variety the Children's Charity as part of the “My Bike” program. His mom said it has given him the freedom and joy of riding alongside his sisters Kayla, 14, and Hayley, 16.

King said she was scared for Logan's safety when he attempted to ride his sister's bike.

“I don't have to worry now,” she said.

That's because Logan's bike is specially fitted to his needs, with safety straps and features that allow an adult to maneuver if necessary.

And now, other children with disabilities in Armstrong County will have the same opportunity as Logan – to experience the excitement of riding their own custom bike.

On Thursday, representatives from ACMH Hospital, Variety the Children's Charity and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield hosted the “My Bike” Armstrong County Kickoff at the ACMH Hospital in East Franklin.

“We have high hopes for helping kids in Armstrong County,” said Bob Mill, vice president of Highmark.

John Lewis, president and CEO of ACMH, recalled getting his first bike when he was 10 and noted how important the program is for improving a child's health, mobility and sense of freedom.

The hospital is supporting the program by helping to identify eligible children by networking with the medical community and school system, said Lewis.

“We're hoping the model starting in Armstrong County will carry through and impact other areas as well,” said Charles LaVallee, CEO of Variety.

He said Variety is committed to kids with special needs leading the fullest life possible.

“Anytime, anywhere, anyplace – however we can help – we're serious, we want to get the word out,” said LaVallee. “We need to keep the pedal to the metal.”

LaVallee noted that the adaptive bikes are sponsored through organizations and individuals.

The cost to sponsor one adaptive bike is $1,800.

The “My Bike” program began with Gov. Tom Corbett and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald in November.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or bbeatty@tribweb.com.

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