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16 Children Receive Adaptive Bikes from Shriners Children’s Northern California

seven patients on adaptive bikes

BikeFit participants pose with their adaptive bikes.

Sixteen children are experiencing one of the greatest joys of childhood, thanks to a popular program at Shriners Children’s Northern California. Now in its seventh year, BikeFit helps kids who are unable to ride a standard two-wheel bike enjoy the same physical and mental benefits as other children, as they learn to ride custom adaptive tricycles.

“There is nothing better than having a patient complete our six-week summer program, and then come back excitedly to show photos of them riding alongside their siblings on the bike trail,” said BikeFit Program Lead Laura van Houtryve, PT, MPT. “It warms my heart every time and lets me know that all of the hard work pays off.”

On a breezy summer day in downtown Sacramento, California, inspirational music blared as more than two dozen excited kids donned helmets, mounted their new bikes and tentatively tested the pedals, gaining confidence with each crank as staff and volunteers accompanied them around a 2-mile circuit. Since every child is unique, each bike is built to their exact specifications with a variety of accessories such as easy-to-steer handlebars, hand brakes, pedal straps, movable trunk supports, baskets, adjustable seats and a bright orange flag for added safety.

female patient on adaptive bike

A Shriners Children's patient rides her bike.

Supportive parents and family members formed an enthusiastic cheering section, joined by Sacramento State University physical therapy students and the Sacramento Police Department, whose officers blocked off an entire tree-lined street so children had plenty of room to rock and roll on their new rides. Shouts of encouragement echoed throughout the medical campus as passersby stopped to marvel at kids living their best lives.

“This is just a tremendous gift for us, for our family,” one grateful mother told a local TV station that was on hand to capture the event. “I cannot express enough how happy I am to see him smiling.”

Custom adaptive bikes don’t come cheap, with the average price tag around $2,000. Thanks to generous donors, the 16 bikes were provided at no cost to the families. Removing barriers to freedom, fun and recreation through philanthropic support is what makes innovative programs like BikeFit so attractive to donors.

Even as grateful parents were loading the new bikes into trucks and SUVs, plans were in the works for making next year’s event bigger and better. Another group of patients anxiously awaits the day when they can ride their own custom adaptive bikes. Thanks to Shriners Children’s Northern California and generous community support, those dreams will soon become reality.

Learn more about BikeFit and other innovative patient programs at Shriners Children’s Northern California.

group picture of patients, students and staff members

Sacramento State students, Shriners Children's Northern California staff and patients pose in front of the hospital.

BikeFit 2023

BikeFit is a program that helps kids who are unable to ride a standard two-wheel bike enjoy the same physical and mental benefits as other children, as they learn to ride custom adaptive tricycles.
View Transcript

[Shriners Children's Northern California logo]

Speaker 1:

Today is one of the most exciting days of bike fit because the kids have practiced riding, getting their bike styled in all the safety features, tweaked, and now they're out real world, real life, practicing riding, watching out for pedestrians, learning how to control their bikes on the street sidewalks, and getting ready to take their bikes home and ride out in the community starting next week.

Speaker 2:

These bikes have been custom fit to each patient based on their unique ability limitations. So bikes are customized for them to pedal with their arms. They're adjusted so they can pedal with one leg. So these bikes are given to kids who typically wouldn't be able to have own or ride a bike otherwise. So we're really excited to be able to provide this opportunity for them.

Speaker 3:

When a child enters this hospital for the first time, it's a beginning of a journey and this bike fit day here, it's just an amazing opportunity for these kids to show off their new talents, all the work that they've done. And so this is just amazing. I'm so proud to be a Shriner. They've

Speaker 4:

Worked hard to get to this place where they're able to demonstrate they can bike and navigate safely on streets, which is a great precursor for their growing home. But this means it's also a special day for the individuals who have given to make this program possible. We have individual donors who've given year in and year out to make this program happen, and we've also had a wonderful partnership with ABU that makes 50% of these bikes possible through their generosity. What the kids are able to do is really a reflection of also what the community says they want them to be able to do. These donors are an expression of that, and we can't thank them enough.

Speaker 1:

We work really closely with the SAC State PT program, a pre PT and DPT kids who want to get into the physical therapy program, and they're our volunteers and we could not do the program without them. They work one-on-one with the patients. And Sac State has been key in giving us volunteers every year.

[Shriners Children's Northern California logo]

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