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These smiles are the ‘wheel’ deal

 These smiles are the ‘wheel’ deal

Zane Luppino takes his new bike for a spin as his grandmother Janet Luppino looks on.

Beaumont Health’s bike event brightens lives of special kids, adults

The 100-watt smile that was a permanent fixture on 15-year-old Kathleen Worden’s face on the morning of July 16 was bright enough to melt the clouds that hung over the Beaumont Health Pediatric Rehabilitation parking lot.

Worden, diagnosed with epilepsy a short time after she was born and a regular patient at the rehabilitation facility since she was 2, was one of 50 people with special needs (out of 100 total) to secure a new custom-fitted adaptive bicycle at the annual bike event hosted by Beaumont Health’s Center for Children’s Rehabilitation and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

“Kathleen’s first word today was ‘purple’ because she remembered that was the color she picked out for her new bike,” said Patty Worden, Kathleen’s mom. “She was so excited on the drive over today.”

The bikes – many custom-made three-wheelers and two-wheelers with training wheels – are funded each year by the Children’s Miracle Network, which raises money from the community members where the recipients live.

“This means the world to us,” said Patty Worden, “because these bikes are very expensive and custom-fitted to each kid’s needs, which is fabulous. “This is Kathleen’s third bike. She started with a tiny trike and then she moved on to a bigger mountain bike with training wheels. It’s awesome because so many of these families wouldn’t be able to afford the bikes.”

Janet Luppino, the grandmother and legal guardian of 11-year-old Zane who was born with spina bifida, echoed Worden’s thoughts as Zane motored around the parking lot on a yellow three-wheeler.

“I honestly would not have known about this program if not for our Beaumont therapist,” Luppino said. “It’s a wonderful thing that so many people thought it was important enough to donate. I think all the people in our neighborhood will think Zane’s new bike is really cool because it looks like a chopper.”

Kathleen Worden tries out her new bike

Charlotte Alex, director of the Children’s Miracle Network at Beaumont Health, said approximately $200,000 is raised each year to make the bike event possible. The average cost of each bike is $2,000 to $2,500, Alex said.

“It’s really an emotional day for the parents and the kids because a lot of parents of special-needs kids worry their children may never be able to have typical childhood experiences like riding a bike,” Alex said. “To be able to help make this happen feels phenomenal. It warms all of our hearts.

“These bikes not only help the recipients gain physical strength in their legs and arms, but it provides them with mental and emotional gains as well.”

Alex said the funds are raised in a variety of ways, including an annual CMN radiothon, money collected from people rounding up purchases at local businesses and a late-August celebrity golf outing, hosted this year by Mark Wahlberg.

One of the key contributors to the bike event is Hal Honeyman, the owner of Freedom Mobility, a business that makes custom adjustments to adaptive bikes. Honeyman said he started his company when his son Jacob, a triplet, was born with special needs.

“Days like today are very rewarding because we actually get to meet the families,” said Honeyman, who travels from his home in St. Charles, Illinois for the event. “We do this for children, young adults and veterans with lesser abilities. It’s the smiles on these kids’ faces that keep us going.”

Canada-based Freedom Concepts also plays a huge role in building the special bikes.

If you have a good-news story idea for SocialHouseNews.com, please contact Editor-In-Chief Ed Wright at edwright@socialhousenews.com or 734-664-4657.

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