Strider believes every person should have the chance to ride a bike. “Some people told us David would never ride on two-wheels, but starting on a STRIDER Bike gave him confidence and newfound freedom,” said Mona Drolc, Head Coach for Rapid City Special Olympics Young Athletes Program and instructor for STRIDER Camp classes.
David is 7 years old, has Down syndrome and won the special needs exhibition race at the STRIDER World Championships last year. Mona, his proud mom, added, “He’s not afraid to participate with others and wants to help his friends learn to ride. It’s changed his attitude towards riding a regular bike, and he easily transitioned to riding a pedal bike without training wheels.”
Strider Sports International, Inc., is the leading manufacturer of balance bikes, creating over one million STRIDER Bike riders since 2007. The STRIDER Bike line-up includes the 12” model for younger riders, as well as the 16” and 20” models, developed specifically for individuals with special needs, such as Down syndrome, autism or cerebral palsy.
In 2014, Strider donated a total of over $300,000 through the Rider Fund, of which over 75 percent went to individuals with special needs. Strider expects to donate over $400,000 to non-profit organizations through 2015, and is earmarking $200,000 to the Special Needs community. Strider works with Special Olympics Young Athletes Program and is partnering with the 2015 National Down Syndrome Society Buddy Walks.
“Learning through a safe progression of walk, stride and glide, STRIDER Bikes greatly improve the motor skills, core strength and balance of our students,” said Kim Burke, PT, MPT at LifeScape, a non-profit organization that serves children and adults with disabilities. “Individuals with disabilities usually get less physical activity than those without disabilities, so we are excited to partner with Strider Sports. If kids can walk, they can ride a STRIDER!”
STRIDER Bikes give freedom to riders who want to go off the pavement onto grass or dirt paths. The bikes are lightweight, making them easy to ride, transport, store and carry. They handle turns with ease and cost $100- $280, much less than some adaptive bicycles and tricycles.
New this year at the 2nd Annual STRIDER Championship Series events are race classes for athletes with special needs. Strider is working with special needs organizations in each race region to give over ten bikes to individuals with special needs in advance of each race.
With most new racers not having experience on a two-wheeled bike, 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, Fla. (April 25), Ventura, Calif. (May 9), Pittsburgh, Penn. (June 6) and Salt Lake City, Utah (August 8). The race categories are; 8 and under on 12” STRIDER Bikes; 8 years and under on 16” STRIDER Bikes; 9 years and up on 16” STRIDER Bikes; 9 years and up on 20” STRIDER Bikes.
The family-friendly Championship Series event includes the STRIDER Adventure Zone with fun activities and demo rides. To encourage athletes to participate in the event, Strider has offered to waive the registration fee for the Special Needs race. Each athlete will receive a Strider goodie bag. Register at Championship Series. Participants qualify for the STRIDER World Championship, August 28-29 in Rapid City, S.D. Watch the inspiring video of the exhibition race for special needs last year on Strider’s Special Needs page.
Strider encourages others to consider adding to the Rider Fund so even more individuals with special needs can improve their physical—and emotional—health: