May 18, 2023

Charity and local business give adaptive bikes to children with special needs

Five lucky kids received a new set of wheels on a recent Friday afternoon and had the chance to take them for a spin in the parking lot of J&A Racing Company, a local business that helped raise funds for the bike donations.

Some of the children only had wheelchairs and now they have a fun set of wheels, an adaptive bike gifted to them by Preston's March for Energy.

Kymani Smith, 6, a Norfolk resident, received a pink tricycle with rear steering, so her parents can help steer the bike. She has cerebral palsy and is currently in a wheelchair.

Tamika Smith, Kymani's mom, said her daughter looks forward to riding around the neighborhood and the bike will help her strengthen her legs and aid in her physical therapy.

"I believe all children should be able to have a bicycle. It's truly a right of passage to have one," she said. "So, if possible, a child with a challenge should be no different. We’re so thankful to have this opportunity."

Preston's March For Energy, a Delaware-based nonprofit, has been providing adaptive bikes to children with special needs for 61/2 years. Members travel around the country to hand deliver every bike and see the joy of the children as they take their first bike ride. The charity can match almost any disability and customize the bike to the children's needs.

It was founded by Deb and Steve Buenaga, who have a child, Preston, with special needs. Families apply for the adaptive bikes online by filling out an application at

Peggy Wolff, a physical therapist at Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters, helped Kymani's mom apply for her new bike. Wolff said she keeps a list of all her patients that could benefit from adaptive tricycles. She said it's difficult to get insurance to pay for the bikes, which can cost up to $2,500.

Many of her patients have wheelchairs, and the others that don't still can't ride a normal bike because of balance and support issues.

"This program is amazing for the physical therapists and the families," she said. "Our goal is mobility and inclusion, so they can do what the other kids can do and fit in with their peers. Also, the bike makes exercising fun for the kids."

Tristen Wiley, 11, a Shore Drive resident, received a blue bike that offers trunk support, rear steering and handlebars that adjust independently. Tristen has periventricular leukomalacia, which is a white matter brain injury. She has developmental delays and spastic cerebral palsy.

Donna Raasch, Tristen's mom, said the new bike will help her to learn balance and strengthen her core muscles.

She loves to play with her younger sister, and this bike will allow her to ride around the neighborhood with her sister and entire family. This will be her first bike, and she's already shared the exciting news with all her friends and teachers.

"Tristen loves being independent, and now she can ride with little assistance," said Raasch. "We strive to allow her to accomplish all things every other 11-year-old can do, and this will bring us one step closer."

Lee Belote, [email protected]

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