Hometown Hero Brings Biking to Kids With Disabilities

By Melanie Chapman | mchapman@kolr10.com

Published 07/09 2014 06:20PM

Updated 07/09 2014 07:41PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- This week many children with disabilities in the Ozarks are learning a very special skill: how to ride a bike.

Riding a bike is like a right of passage for many children. Learning to ride the traditional way can be a challenge for some. But, all week long at Remington’s Event Center, children are reaching mile stones.

That’s where the iCan Shine comes in. it’s a non-profit organization that teaches individuals with disabilities to ride a two-wheel bicycle through its iCan Bike program.

Elizabeth Aley. Mother 11:02:15 “It’s monumental,” says Elizabeth Aley. “It’s phenomenal just to see her ride and to see what a great job she is doing. We've worked on this for so long and to see her success in three days...its huge. What a life skill that she has learned that she'll use for the rest of her life.”

Aley's daughter, Cloe Olivia, has determination. You can see her confidence growing as she rides a bike -something that means so much to her and her family.

“She does have a bike we picked one out this week,” says Aley. “She's very excited. This will give her a life skill and a way to bridge that social barrier that she struggles with and a way to interact with her peers in a way that she has not been able to.”

Aley gives many praises to Mindy Hesterly, whose 10-year old son has Down syndrome.

Hesterly coordinated the iCan Shine Bike Camp. It uses adapted equipment that prevents a child from tipping a bike over. There are also trained professional and volunteers to teach the children to ride. Biking, to Hesterly, is an important part of childhood.

“You know, most kids learn how to ride a bike,” says Hesterly. “I remember when I learned how to ride a bike and how exciting that was for the me the freedom and independence and the confidence instilled in me as a kid and just to go out and ride with my friends in the neighborhood and do all the things that the other kids do.”

Doing things that other kids do brings big smiles to these faces. 80-percent of the riders learn to ride a conventional bicycle on their own by the end of this week long camp.

“It makes me smile,” says Hesterly. “Like I said, I got up with morning and was just smiles when my feet hit the ground So, just really excited about all the kids learning and just how much fun they area having.”

These are moments that will last a lifetime, making these special children more independent yet bringing them closer to family and friends.

“I'd say Mindy, what an amazing mom you are and an amazing friend to allow us to be a part of this and to give my daughter this opportunity that I wasn't able to do as a single parent,” says Aley. “I'm just so profoundly grateful and what a blessing it’s been to me and my family, you will never know what gift you have given us.”

The program is in need of volunteers who are able to sprint and run with the bike riders. For more information, visit Down Syndrome Group of the Ozarks or iCan Shine.

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