For many kids, getting a new bike is a special moment. For 11-year-old Abby Faber, of Story City, the gift from Variety - the Children’s Charity is all the more meaningful.
Abby has cerebral palsy, a condition that affects movement and muscle tone throughout the body. Without the strength in her legs to ride a traditional bike, the specialized, adaptive tricycle allows her freedom and speed in movement that she otherwise wouldn’t have.
The purchase of the bike was a collaborative effort between Variety and Fareway. Ringing up at about $2,600, the adaptive bike and other mobility equipment like it are not normally covered by a family’s insurance, Variety Executive Director Sheri McMichael said.
“This is one of those things that variety can step in and say you know what, we’re going to provide you a specialized bike, in this case, and help build up the strength in her legs and build up the strength in her core so she can be more independent,” McMichael said.
This is the second adaptive bike Abby has received through Variety. She received the first when she was 5, which she has now outgrown, according to her mother, Jennifer Faber. Jennifer said Abby’s physical therapist played a big part in applying with variety for the bikes.
“Our physical therapist at Blank Pediatric Therapy was instrumental, she helps throughout the whole application process,” she said.
The trike has a wide seat with a backrest and velcro straps to help Abby stay seated. Unlike her previous set of wheels, this one is equipped with a hand brake and is adjustable to modify the fit as she grows.
A stand that converts it into a stationary bike is also included so Abby can use the trike to exercise and build strength in her legs. This use is vital after having three surgeries done on her legs, leaving them weaker each time from being in casts.
According to McMichael, a large party of the work Variety does is based on providing traditional bicycles and equipment to children who have never had one as well as adaptive bikes and mobility pieces that assist with standing and walking.
“We expanded it a couple of years ago (to include mobility equipment) because we thought bikes are great, but there are other needs,” McMichael said. “We started getting requests for that and to me the most important thing is to make sure these kids are getting the equipment they need to be mobile.”
The adaptive bike for Abby is one of 53 bikes and pieces of mobility equipment Variety has provided this year. McMichael said they expect to give at least 10 more before the end of 2019.
Abby took a lap around the aisles at the Fareway store in the Somerset Neighborhood of Ames, where the bike was presented, with store manager Brian Schmith in tow.
According to Schmith, much of the work to raise money for the bike was done by cashiers at the store. Fareway held a “roundup” where cashiers asked each customer if they would like to round their total up to the nearest dollar to donate to Variety.
“It doesn’t cost anybody a lot but it really raises a lot of money in a short amount of time,” Schmith said. “The best part for me is doing things like this where we get to actually see the faces of the little kids when they get something like that and how much it means to them.”
Abby said she hopes she and her three older siblings can take the bike for a spin on the bike trails near their home in Story City.