Riding a bike may seem to many like a small matter, but it certainly wasn’t for our family or for our beloved Michaela. Despite her physical limitations due to cerebral palsy, Michaela adored life, traveled the world, went to school — and loved her adaptive bicycle. With its sleek black handlebars and shiny purple frame, the bicycle allowed her to navigate the sidewalks, the zoo, and even the baseball diamond, where she was part of a Friendship Circle team.
Michaela’s spastic quadreplegia did not allow her muscles to move fluidly on their own, but she was able to pedal on the bike, thereby enjoying the sun and the wind, and strengthening and increasing flexibility in her legs and hips. But while this therapeutic benefit was important to us, being on the bike also meant that she could be a kid too — and that we,her parents, could celebrate those precious moments with her.
Like Michaela, every child with a disability deserves to ride. To be included. To get out into the community. To meet the neighbors. To make friends. Yet, for many who have difficulty with balance, coordination, mobility and strength, a typically-designed two-wheeler is not appropriate. Fortunately, there are manufacturers of special needs equipment who build adaptive bicycles with proper head and chest supports, harnesses, foot plates and Velcro strapping to keep one safe while riding. Medical insurance companies, however, do not cover their very high cost which go into the thousands of dollars, qualifying these bikes as “recreational” rather than “therapeutic.”
That’s where we all come in. This year, we ask you to support the Great Bike Giveaway in memory of Michaela Noam Kaplan, bringing an important therapeutic tool and means of inclusion to countless children across the country with physical disabilities who could not otherwise afford one.
In honoring our beloved daughter’s memory, we can think of no better partner than the Friendship Circle. Please join us.
Adam Kaplan and Gabriella Burman