Skip to main content

Take the Lead: What progress looks like for kids through the joy of bike riding

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Facebook-Taking-the-Lead-1024x243.png

Take the Lead is a blog series from Teri Nestel, president and CEO of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. In this leadership-focused series, Teri will share her insights and leadership lessons alike.

Do you remember your first bike, and the fun, freedom and confidence it gave you? Not to mention the therapeutic benefits.

Along with being fun, bike riding has many physical benefits to build endurance, muscle strength, coordination, and balance. Emotionally, it also promotes bonding with family and friends, and inclusion, improving a child’s mental health.

Unfortunately, for some, bike riding can be a dream opposed to a reality. Children with congenital health conditions, or acquired illnesses or injuries, often miss out on the thrill and delight of riding a bike.

But the invention of the adaptive bike was a game-changer for people with disabilities. And with funding support from our network’s business and community partners, some of our member hospitals are making what seems impossible, possible. We are helping children with a range of disabilities experience the joy of bike riding.

Adaptive bikes are customized to the individual needs of children with disabilities, meaning there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Some children need hand-propelled bicycles while others need foot-propelled; some need a recumbent seat as opposed to upright.

Built based on a child’s physical and emotional ability, these highly customized bicycles can cost as much as $6,000. They cannot be purchased at the average bike shop or store. And they need to be updated or replaced as the child grows or abilities change.

For these reasons and more, some of our member hospitals use CMN Hospitals’ funds to assist families in obtaining bikes as part of a rehabilitation plan for their children.

  • Each year, Beaumont Health’s Center for Children’s Rehabilitation in Royal Oak, MI provides about 100 free, custom-designed bikes to children with disabilities, in partnership with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and the Beaumont Foundation.
  • Driscoll Children’s Hospital Rehabilitation Department can provide adapted bicycles, also known as Amtryke bicycles, to some of their patients in partnership with CMN Hospitals and generous donors like Ace Hardware.

Nine-year-old Ruth-Evelyn of St. Paul, MN, one of 11 children recognized as a 2022 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals National Champion, received a custom, hands-free bike designed for her rehabilitation by the team at Gilette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. Watch her here.  

As we celebrate World Bike Day on June 3, I’ll be thinking of RE and the thousands of other children riding adaptive bikes thanks to the generosity of our gracious donors and partners. It’s another way we are changing kids’ health to change the future.