Matthew Doherty on his new bike.
Photo by Collin Richie
Getting a new bike is a rite of passage for many children, but for children with disabilities, it can be a dream that seems unattainable. Thanks to an innovative program from McMains Children’s Developmental Center, however, that dream has become a reality for 100 special children in the Baton Rouge area.
The center launched its Wheels to Succeed initiative in 2007, spearheaded by physical therapist and cycling enthusiast Ashley Leach, who recognized that many disabled children typically could only watch as their friends or siblings rode bikes. The program provides adapted bikes, trikes and handcycles to kids with physical disabilities. Some who may not even be able to walk can now experience the freedom of riding alongside their family members and friends.
In early December, Wheels to Succeed awarded its 100th bike to Matthew Doherty and his family. As with all of the other bikes issued through the program, it was given to him at no charge other than shipping costs. Donors and fundraisers cover the price of each bike, which can range from $600 to $6,000.
In conjunction with the Wheels to Succeed program, the McMains Center sponsors two bike events each year: the No Such Thing as Impossible bike ride for children and adults in the spring and a Kids Bike Event in the fall. These outings serve as fundraisers while also providing opportunities for youngsters with adapted bikes to ride; other children with disabilities may be evaluated for their own adapted bikes at the events as well. This year’s No Such Thing as Impossible ride will take place March 8 at the West Feliciana Sports Park in St. Francisville.
For details on the program, see wheelstosucceed.org.