As Briana Glover sat at the Disability Action Center on Friday, she patiently waited with a smile on her face for her name to be called.
Little did she know her name would be called first to receive a brand new bicycle custom made for her.
Glover, along with 11 other children with disabilities, received bicycles made for them as part of Variety the Children’s Charity’s My Bike Program that launched Friday in Marion County.
The program provides bikes for children with disabilities who are unable to ride a conventional bike. Charles LaVallee, chief executive officer of Variety the Children’s Charity, said the program opens up adventures for these children.
“It provides opportunities to create possibilities,” he said.
Children from Marion, Harrison, Monongalia, Preston, Taylor and Barbour counties gathered Friday at the Disability Action Center to receive an adaptive bike. Variety’s My Bike Program kicked off in West Virginia on April 4 with 39 children receiving a customized bike.
Julie Sole, executive director of the Disability Action Center, said having a launch in Marion County will help children with disabilities in the county with an opportunity to ride a bike.
“The kids receiving the bikes (Friday) have some type of disability, some type of barrier that has kept them from riding a traditional bicycle,” she said.
Sole said the My Bike Program is an opportunity for children ages 5-21 who meet income guidelines and have a physical, developmental or sensory disability to receive a bike. She said for some, having a bike of their own that they are able to ride can be therapeutic.
“For a lot of these children ages 5-21, this my be the first time that they’re ever able to ride a bike,” Sole said. “To have the opportunity to have a bike custom fitted for them is an opportunity for these families that they’ve never had.”
The bikes are custom fit for the children whether they need back, leg or head support.
“It fits each individual child’s need,” Sole said. “It lets them do what all children want to do, which is ride a bike.”
The bikes given to the children are not usually paid for by insurance and cost around $1,800. To pay for the bikes, people and companies have sponsored bikes for each child.
One family made the trip to Marion County on Friday in order for 5-year-old Thomas McEnaney to get his first bike.
Ruth Bosdale, McEnaney’s grandmother, said the trip from Barbour County was worth seeing her grandson ride a bike for the first time. After the children were safely on their bikes, they rode around the Disability Action Center.
“When he went around on his bike, he had the biggest smile he has ever had,” she said. “He’s finally able to pedal a bicycle.”
Bosdale said McEnaney has tried to ride a conventional bicycle but hasn’t been successful. Friday, McEnaney succeeded for the first time.
“He would get so frustrated,” she said. “Today, absolutely no frustration. He was successful after all that frustration.”
For more information about the My Bike Program and to apply, visit Variety the Children’s Charity’s website at www.varietypittsburgh.org or call the Variety West Virginia Office at 304-400-8300.
Email Emily Gallagher at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @EGallagherTWV.