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LWSRA goal: Help those with special needs get grants for adaptive bikes

Several models adaptive bikes were available for people try Saturday Lincolnway Special RecreatiAssociatiadaptive cycling clinic.  |  ErGallagher~For Sun-Times

Several models of adaptive bikes were available for people to try Saturday at the Lincolnway Special Recreation Association adaptive cycling clinic. | Erin Gallagher~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: June 23, 2014 1:46PM



To some, “getting a new set of wheels” might mean upgrading to a new luxury vehicle.

To others, though, it can be an even bigger deal: the difference between having limited mobility and having freedom.

That’s why Saturday found a few dozen people attending an adaptive cycling clinic at the Lincolnway Special Recreation Association’s new center in New Lenox, where people were able to try out different kinds of bikes that might meet their physical needs.

Just as important, they could find information about how to apply for grants for the bikes, which can cost up to $5,000.

Justin Hillman, of New Lenox, already knows the benefits of having such a bike.

“My legs aren’t very good,” he said. “I can’t drive a car. This is my only way of getting out of the house and being able to go where I want independently.”

Although Hillman’s bike can be pedaled, it also is motorized. Other models have hand pedals for those who have to use their arms to get around.

Hillman has had his bike for a few years. Others were trying models for the first time.

Cory Klene, 13, of Frankfort, recently had a procedure that will not allow him to bend his knees any more, said his mother, Peggy. The bike clinic presented a great opportunity for him to try different styles to see what may work best with his new physical limitations, she said.

Some of the bikes at the clinic were priced as high as $5,000 each, according to Keith Wallace, executive director of the Lincolnway Special Recreation Association. The organization’s goal was to get every kid who came to the clinic a grant for a new adaptive bike, he said.

Participants had to select a model, properly fill out the grant application and send a photo of the child on the bike. It was likely that everyone who properly applied for the grant would have a bike within a few weeks, Wallace said.

“That would be amazing,” Peggy Klene said. “There is no way we would be able to (buy) it for $4,000 or $5,000.”

The Lincolnway Special Recreation Association’s new center has an indoor gym and outdoor basketball courts and a track for bikes. The association exists through a cooperative agreement with the Frankfort, Manhattan, Mokena, New Lenox, Peotone and Wilmington Island park districts, but draws from a wider area for events such as clinics.

Jodi Morales was there Saturday from Griffith, Ind., and Art Johnson came from Olympia Fields, for instance.

Adaptive bikes are critical to the quality of life for some of the attendees, such as Hillman, said his mom, Carol. Hillman frequently bikes along a 7-mile path that — coincidentally, she said with laugh — ends at the Creamery in Frankfort, a favorite local ice cream business. Without his bike, he would be cooped up at home all the time.

Those interested in pursuing grants should contact Peter Mangelsdorf at (815) 320-3506 or email pmangelsdorf@lwsra.org.



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