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Special Bikes for Special Kids

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Thanks to Covid-19, bicycles are an item that is in high demand across the country. But Shriners Hospitals for Children in Chicago was determined to ensure one of their young patients, David still had the opportunity to ride his own bike, regardless of his medical conditions. 

David, a 9-year-old from Chicago, expressed his thanks for receiving an adaptive bicycle for free through a program offered by Shriners Hospitals for Children — Chicago and the nonprofit, Special Bikes for Special Kids. David, who has a long list of medical conditions and uses a speech-generating communication device, said now he has a bike to ride with his brothers and friends.

“Thank you for the bicycle,” said David. “I love the yellow color and stickers. I will take good care of it.”

Shriners Hospitals for Children’s recreational therapy department helps patients become independent and find sports and activities they are passionate about, regardless of their physical abilities or disabilities. David has arthrogryposis, scoliosis, clubfoot, an undiagnosed neuromuscular disorder, and paralyzed vocal cords, among his conditions. This means he can’t ride a traditional off the shelf bicycle. Adaptive bikes using hand controls or other methods to move typically cost several thousand dollars.  That’s why the Chicago Shriners Hospital teamed up with a nonprofit called Special Bikes for Special Kids. The groups work with a bicycle supplier called Project Mobility to provide adaptive bikes at no charge to selected patients.  

This Summer the Chicago Shriners Hospital awarded nine bikes to patients who applied back in the Spring, including David. Since the start of the Special Bikes program in 2011, the Chicago Shriners Hospital has purchased 71 adaptive bikes for patients, costing over $200,000.

David’s mom, Violet Gunka Gurgal, said, “Unfortunately, many times things for special needs kids are very expensive.  Having organizations that help, and donors who are willing to contribute to the happiness of kids like David is such a blessing.”

Background on AAC’s like David uses to talk: Communication devices, also called Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices, are equipment people use to communicate without using verbal speech. In addition to unaided communication, such as facial expressions and gestures, these tools can help people with communication disorders interact with others and improve their language skills.

About Shriners Hospitals for Children

Since 1922, Shriners Hospitals for Children has provided pediatric specialty care to children with orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate. Shriners Hospitals has treated more than 1.3 million children from more than 180 countries over the last 95 years.

Shriners Hospitals for Children has 22 locations throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico and is changing lives every day through innovative pediatric specialty care, world-class research and outstanding medical education. All care is provided regardless of the families’ ability to pay. Learn more at shrinershospitalsforchildren.org.

Shriners Hospitals for Children is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and relies on the generosity of donors. All donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent permitted by law.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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