Two Armstrong County girls were recipients of adaptive bicycles from a Pittsburgh charity last week.
Shailagh Costello, of Rural Valley and Krista Cousins, of Kittanning, received the bicycles June 10 at the Indiana County YMCA.
The bicycles were provided by Variety the Children’s Charity of Wexford.
Because the bicycles were presented at the new Miracle League field, all children were able to take a ride on their new bicycles
CEO Charles LaVallee said some of the recipients didn’t want to leave the field or get any assistance from their parents while taking their first ride.
“For kids who have had trouble with stability to get on these bikes and ride right away, it was so awesome,” LaVallee said. “It was a great day – and we fitted five more kids afterward; so in another four to six weeks, we’ll have more bikes to give away!
“It was just beautiful watching the reactions of the families to the joy of their kids. It becomes so great when people are celebrating with these kids.”
Costello’s mother, Brittany Fisher, described what this is going to mean to their entire family.
“We had bikes in the past, but they were never successful. She was always fearful of riding a traditional two-wheeled bike. Now, we will be able to do more things together as a family and no longer be worried that Shailagh is being left behind. Her feeling safer on the bike will make me feel more secure.”
Children with Autism, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome are the top three donors so far.
Nearly 800 adaptive bicycles have been provided to children regionally through Variety’s “My Bike” Program since it kicked off in Western Pennsylvania on November 5, 2012.
Armstrong County children have received 200 of those bicycles, and are one of the 22 Pennsylvania Counties served in the program.
The cost to sponsor one adaptive bike is $1,800.
Seven adaptive bicycles were presented to children in all Wednesday – including for two children from Indiana County and three children from Cambria County.
“Variety” estimates nearly 250 more local children would meet the financial and disability requirements to receive an adaptive bicycle
Spokesperson Zach Marsh said the charitable organization is looking to further expand its reach – like it did recently into Venango County.
“When we make the decision to expand, we want to make sure we have a core group of partners in the community that will help us identify and fundraise for the equipment for the kids– those are the two big pieces where we need the most help,” Marsh said.
Leaders from AFSCME Council 83, the Indiana Regional Medical Center Foundation and the Indiana County YMCA were at last weeks’ presentation.
Another presentation is scheduled for Tuesday, June 23 before an Altoona Curve minor league baseball team.
More information or applications can be obtained through Variety’s website www.varietypittsburgh.org/MyBikeProgram.asp, or by calling the Variety Main Office at 724-933-0460 (for Western Pennsylvania children).