Photos courtesy of Strider Sports
Strider Sports is well known for its line of kid-sized balance bikes that help children learn the key element of cycling—balance—before worrying about pedals or brakes. But not as well known is it has taken that same philosophy and expanded it to help kids and adults with special needs expand their freedom and enjoy life on two wheels.
While the most popular Strider model has 12-inch wheels, there are also models with 16 and 20-inch wheels and hand brakes that can fit riders from age six to adulthood. They were developed specifically for individuals with special needs, such as Down syndrome, autism or cerebral palsy.
Strider doesn’t just make products for the special needs community, it contributes to their well-being with the Rider Fund, program to support individuals in need. Created in 2014, the Rider Fund donates bikes and accessories to non-profit organizations and has earmarked half of its funds for 2015 for special needs groups. One percent of Strider Sports gross revenue is collected into the fun, and a dollar is added for each Strider bike registered online. To date, the Rider Fund has donated more than $300,000 in bikes an accessories. Strider also works with Special Olympics Young Athletes Program and sponsors the 2015 National Down Syndrome Society Buddy Walks.
Strider also hosts its hugely popular Strider Championship Series for kids to race, and this year it is expanding the series to include race classes for athletes with special needs. ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼Most will not have previous experience on a two-wheeled bike, so Strider has a special, weekly training plan for the individuals to be ready—and excited—for the starting line. Riders will practice starting gates, riding side- by-side, ramps, passing, and other obstacles typical in a racing environment. They’ll also practice podium fist-pumps, since all athletes are treated to an Olympic-style podium award ceremony after their race. Four national races will be held in Bradenton, Florida (April 25), Ventura, California (May 9), Pittsburgh (June 6) and Salt Lake City (August 8).
Strider encourages others to consider adding to the Rider Fund so even more individuals with special needs can improve their physical—and emotional—health:
- Donate to the Rider Fund on Strider’s website.
- Purchase a Strider bike: Strider donates one percent of Strider Sports’ gross revenue from all sales worldwide each month toward the Rider Fund.
- Those who already own a Strider bike, can register it: Strider donates $1 for every bike registered.