Riding a bike marks a milestone for children. While it can provide a sense of freedom, many kids with physical disabilities don't have the opportunity to enjoy the experience. We want to help change that for one local boy.
Liam Sullivan has spina bifida meaning his spinal cord failed to develop properly leaving him with paralysis in his lower half. He currently gets around in a wheelchair but dreams of being able to ride bikes with his brother and sister and friends, "and go so fast and win," as Liam puts it.
Liam's hurdles started before birth, when at 23 weeks of pregnancy, a team of doctors removed him from his mother Katie, attempted to repair his spine, and sewed him back into the uterus. Liam has since been through intense physical therapy and more operations. He will have years of obstacles ahead of him, but he got a break from noticing his disability on a recent trip to Crested Butte.
That's where Liam spotted a bike that someone like him could ride, an adaptive cycle. He caught on quick. Katie said, "Just to see him actually use a bike on his own was the most joyful moment. No words can explain the look on his face, and we miss out on a lot of milestones so this for us was a huge milestone.” Mom and dad have been searching for the right adaptive cycle for Liam for a while, '“We’ve tried probably close to a dozen different contraptions to find one that works for him” explains his dad Kyle.
Soon after their family trip, Katie and Kyle stumbled upon Angletech, a destination bicycle shop in Colorado Springs that happens to specialize in adaptive cycles, among other things. The bicycle will need to be made specifically for Liam. It will have an electric element to it that will give his legs a break, but still, be able to practice the motions of pedaling. It will be made to fit him where he is now but will grow with him for years to come.
Across the U.S. More than 1400 kids are born with spina bifida each year, but one in 33 are born with a birth defect. Adaptive gear helps with everything from muscle and joint movement to circulation. Possibly the biggest benefit of adaptive gear is the sense of independence and freedom it allows. Kyle says for Liam, “That's the biggest part. It allows him to gain his independence instead of watching the neighborhood kids and brother and sister from the sidelines. He can actually participate with them."
The bikes at Angletech go a step further with the way they look. Head team member and owner Kelvin Clark says, "They look like something for mere mortals and because of this Liam will be a part of his community and not set aside because of his challenge"
The issue is that adaptive gear is expensive. There are grants and scholarships from places like Two Angels Foundation and Challenged Athletes Foundation, but those take time and only cover a portion of the cost. The Sullivans share their story, not to silicate donations, but rather bring to light obstacles that thousands of families with disabled loved ones face daily. Things like access to trails and buildings or lack of assistive technology.
Liam's bike will be nearly $9,000 when it is done. If you would like to help Liam's dream of riding come to fruition you can donate directly to Angltech where they have a fund set up. Call their number at 719-687-7475 and let them know you would like to give to Liam Sullivan.
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