“Adaptive bikes” being given to special needs kids

By Jim McCabe on March 21 at 7:14am

A Jacksonville girl needs your help to win a contest that will help her come closer to leading a normal life.

Rachel Buhlig is a 13-year-old student at Jacksonville High School. Rachel has Down’s syndrome, which according to her mother Laurie, causes additional physical challenges. Rachel has a congenital subluxation of her hips and overall ankle instability.

That causes pain and discomfort with physical activity, and Laurie tells us that’s why the family has applied for an adaptive bike to be given away by the Michigan-based Friendship Circle organization.

“There is a Great Bike Giveaway; it’s actually throughout the United States. What they’re doing is providing a certain number of adaptive bicycles to individuals with special needs, and it’d be perfect for Rachel because she’d be able to fit on a bicycle with some support and take the pressure and the impact off of her hips and off of her ankles,” Buhlig explains.

“She’d be able to get some exercise, to have some independence, and more importantly, to have some fun.”

The bike the Buhligs hope to win costs $740, and Laurie says her family’s limited resources prevent purchasing the equipment on their own. The adaptive bike Rachel would ride is a three-wheel bike with trunk support.

“They can adapt to many different special needs. There are several different types of companies that provide the bicycles, and the ones we’re looking at is made specifically for children with special needs,” she says.

While Rachel struggles with the cognitive limitations of Down’s syndrome, Laurie says her daughter is excited about getting this bike.

“A lot of people in town know Rachel, and she gets excited about a lot of things, but yes, having a bicycle of her own, to be able to ride out to her nanny and pop pop’s house, she would be so excited for that. She would be just absolutely thrilled,” says Buhlig.

“The idea that it would give her some independence is really a good thing. That just helps her develop in so many ways.”

The contest runs until Tuesday. Organizers of the Great Bike Giveaway hope to distribute 100 adaptive bikes during this year’s contest. It’s the third year the program has run.

Getting the most nominations is the name of the game. Buhlig says her entry got over 80 nominations in the first hour of being online. You can nominate Rachel Buhlig for the Great Bike Giveaway by clicking here.