TROY — Learning to ride a bicycle is part of growing up and with a little help, everyone can ride.
Troy business owner and avid cyclist Wade Westfall surprised students in Kari La Lumiere’s class with their own tryke at Troy Junior High School on Friday morning.
Each student took a turn sitting in its seat, buckled themselves in and took their first laps in the hallways of Troy Junior High last week as Westfall looked on.
“This is going to help tremendously with their gross motor abilities. It also is going to help with coordination, sense of direction, navigation — they are so excited,” La Lumiere shared. “This is something we use to develop their brains. Their bodies need to move all the time throughout the day … all kids do, but my kids more so.”
As students took turns riding the royal blue tryke, Westfall shared why he and his wife Susan, donate the theraputic cycles to children with special needs.
“My wife and I have been abundantly blessed. For me, it brings back memories as kids. We’d get up early in the morning, ride our bikes all day and then Mom would yell at us at 6, 7 o’clock to come in,” Westfall shared.
Westfall picked up riding at the age of 40 and enjoys it as an adult.
“To relive those memories of being mobile, that freedom you have on a bike and seeing kids being able to enjoy that and to have a bike that’s accessible to them, built for them — that’s everything.”
With the help of the Mayor’s Bicycling Committee, including Mayor Michael Beamish, Westfall and council member John Terwilliger, physical education teacher Barb Roberts and J & D Bicycles’ Dennis Ferguson, the group presented the tryke to the children so they, too, can ride and participate in the school’s new cycling safety program and physical education classes.
Westfall donated the funds to purchase La Lumiere’s classroom a brand new Rifton adaptive tryke so all students can get behind the wheel. Ferguson’s business, J & D Bicycles, assembled the trike.
“They will be able to get physical activity and they think it’s fun. It’s an opportunity for them to get fit because they love the bike,” Roberts said.
La Lumiere’s class has borrowed adaptive bicycles from the Montgomery County Regional Center in years past. La Lumiere explained the trykes, in high demand, weren’t always available to her classroom.
“It wasn’t a guarantee every year that we were going to get a bike. So this is going to stay in this classroom forever. We will always have it, which is really cool,” she said.
La Luimiere said she helped pick out the tryke with all of its adaptive features so each child was able to ride.
“Adaptability features are huge and it will fit all of the kids, all of the adjustments that are possible,” she said.
La Lumiere currently has four students in her class, but is projected to have up to 10 students next year.
“This tryke will get a tremendous amount of use,” she said. “I am beyond grateful that somebody was willing to donate that amount of money, let alone to benefit my kids. I am so passionate about this.”
La Lumiere, who became a special education teacher after volunteering at Riverside as a Key Club member at Troy High School, shared how her class stays active in the junior high school by coordinating service opportunities such as the campus clean-up in honor of Earth Day later that day.
The tryke, which can cost up to $2,000 per bike, will allow each student the ability to take their very own ride.
The Westfalls shared how they’ve also donated funds through the Miamibucs program for consumers at Riverside in December. Miamibucs is a 501C-3 chapter of AMBUCS and is now located in Troy. Their mission is to provide therapeutic bikes at little or no cost to children and adults with disabilities in Miami County.
“We are big bike advocates so to give folks of all capabilities a chance to ride and to be included is everything,” Westfall said. “There’s nothing like it, that freedom of being on a bicycle. We’re blessed to be able to be in the position to do it.”
It is the first year for Troy City Schools grades 4-8 to incorporate the Mayor’s Cycling Committee’s classroom curriculum to promote safe cycling for all students, said Terwilliger.
As the children took turns, retired teacher Terwilliger said, “When you see the smiles on those kids’ faces — that’s legit.”