Sunshine Foundation

Aidan's Adapted Bike Dream

Thursday, July 7, 2016

For a kid, there’s almost nothing better than a shiny new bike. Bicycles give kids a chance to zip around the neighbourhood with friends as fast as their pedals can push them. They can explore new trails with their family and enjoy the freedom of the summer wind in their hair. 

Imagine how much more special a bike is for a child with a physical disability. How much more valued the freedom of getting out on a warm summer day; feeling the power of your muscles working in different ways as you ride to the park, and the friendships and family bonds that can grow. Adaptive bicycles provide this freedom for people living with physical disabilities. There are several companies around the world that manufacture and sell customized adaptive bikes and prices range into the thousands of dollars depending on the modifications required to suit the individual.

Adaptive bikes are a popular Sunshine Dream request from children living with severe physical disabilities. This summer, 13-year-old Aidan got his Sunshine Dream come true of a new bike fitted just for him.

Aidan bikeAidan lives with severe cerebral palsy and uses a power wheelchair for mobility. When he was younger, he had an adaptive tricycle. “A bike was his first way of getting around independently before we got his wheelchair,” his mom explains. But as time passed, Aidan grew and his bike no longer fit him. Whenever bikes would pass by, Aidan’s face would light up and he would point them out to his mom. For two years, Aidan would express his dream of having a new bike but it was a challenge for his family to find an affordable bike customized to his needs and future growth.

An application to The Sunshine Foundation for Aidan’s new bike made his dream come true. Sunshine worked with Urbane Cyclist Co-op in downtown Toronto to fit Aidan to the perfect bike. A red tricycle from Germany was shipped in for him to try out and once the fit was matched, the team added customizations such as an electronic power assist to make sure Aidan’s bike was safe, comfortable, and paired perfectly with his abilities. In early June, the team at Urbane Cyclist held a small party to present Aidan with his bike.

For Aidan, his new tricycle is empowering. It allows him to be like other children in his neighbourhood and provides him with a sense of independence. Like many children with cerebral palsy, adapted bicycles provide a fun form of physiotherapy to maintain the range of motion. The possibilities of where Aidan’s adapted bike can take him are an open road.