Bike giveaway helps Midstate kids with special needs take their first ride

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SUMMERDALE, Pa. (WHTM) – A handful of local kids with disabilities got some of their first experiences on a bike this week thanks to a Pittsburgh-area charity group.

Eight Midstate kids rode off on custom adaptive bikes free of charge Monday. For some of them, it was like Christmas on Halloween.

Summer may be over, but kids like 4-year-old Maxwell Brown are getting ready for their first ride.

“He’s very social,” his mom, Kristin, said, “so now he’ll actually get out and be able to meet other kids and ride with his brothers.”

Maxwell’s neurological disorder leaves him nonverbal with motor skill delays. But that didn’t matter Monday. Maxwell was ready to ride.

He was among a handful of kids circling the Capital Area Intermediate Unit on their new adaptive bikes. Employees and parents there lined hallways to cheer the parade of kids.

“And I wish everybody could have been here today to have that experience where you see the joy of these kids to do something that we all take for granted,” Charles LaVallee said.

LaVallee runs Variety, the Children’s Charity, which provides the rides through the My Bike program. They’re free to families who need them in 40 counties statewide and in several in West Virginia.

Since the program kicked off several years ago, the organization has given away more than 1,100 bikes.

“Now they can ride with their brothers and sisters and friends and moms and dads,” LaVallee said.

“It chokes me up to think about it,” Kristin Brown said. For her, it offers hope that a two-wheeler might be in her 4-year-old’s future.

“What they’re doing for us and other families like us is amazing,” she said, “and giving us something we never would have had without them.”

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