Curtis is five years old and he cannot walk independently, but it turns out that, thanks to a TAD Freedom Wheels bike, he can actually ride a bike! On 21 October he is going to ride his TAD bike across the Harbour Bridge while participating in the Spring Cycle Carnival. Curtis hopes that other kids will be able to enjoy the freedom that he now enjoys with an aim of raising $3,400 which would provide bicycles for four children, although hopefully he will raise enough to have a whole peloton going.

Curtis is riding for TAD NSW to raise funds for their Freedom Wheels program.  Freedom Wheels provides custom built bicycles for children with disabilities so they can experience the joy of cycling.  It is great for the families as it normalises one aspect of your life in being able to go cycling as a family something so many of us don’t think twice about.

Prior to receiving the bike being a young boy Curtis had a need for speed and as a result he was wearing through shoes and orthotics as he used his upper body strength to lift his feet off the ground and fly down slopes in his walking frame then would drag his feet to brake. This was quite counterproductive for the twice yearly procedure he has to undergo and the inevitable spills as a result.

Cycling now forms part of his rehabilitation as it stretches and strengthens muscles that walking and other therapies cannot reach. As a result of cycling Curtis’ strength and balance has improved which has enabled him to learn to start using walking sticks which will be beneficial in the classroom environment when he starts at Manly Village next year.  Pretty impressive for a boy who was not expected to live in to early infancy or ever walk or talk.

If anyone wants to know how much joy these bikes bring to the kids here are some links to Curtis cycling his Freedom Wheels bike:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPbOg8W2uek

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4HX4Or0K-A

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bh8WCl4ebWg

It is called TAD’s Freedom Wheels and it provides bicycles to enable children with disabilities to ride bicycles for the first time. Many of these children cannot walk but they can ride, if there are people prepared to give their time and expertise to modify a bicycle especially for them—perhaps attach a new seat with a postural support for the back, hips or head and neck; fix foot cups on pedals; attach hand mitts for riders with poor upper limb and hand control and strength; and attach outriggers for stability. It is quite a job to modify one of these bikes, but they are done specifically for each child and they enable children to get some exercise and therapy that they might not otherwise get. These bikes mean a great deal to the children and their families and TAD provides them to around 300 children each year.

You can go online to www.everydayhero.com.au/curtis_ride and sponsor this young man and support the work he is doing to provide assistance for the many other children who would love to be able to ride a bike and currently cannot. Or sign up for the ride and nominate TAD NSW to receive any of your funds raised.

Ride strong Curtis.