Most Ambucs know the secret to our organization’s success is the winning combination of a powerful mission and the world’s most dedicated volunteers. Earlier this summer, two Michigan chapters showed us the power of working Shoulders Together to help two young people in their communities discover the joy of riding their own Amtrykes.
Robin Hollebeek, a physical therapist at Whitehall Public Schools in Michigan (and fun fact: a former AMBUCS scholarship recipient), worked with the Muskegon Chapter to try to get her 4th grade student Max a bike. Max was born with Down’s Syndrome and couldn’t ride a traditional bike, but because he didn’t need all the bells and whistles of an Amtryke, the Muskegon Chapter initially approved the purchase of a tricycle from a local bike shop. Like all bicycle suppliers, the local shop had a hard time getting bikes in, and after almost one year of waiting for the tricycle, the bike shop informed Max’s family that his tricycle was not going to arrive.
Robin also had another student, Aidan, who she thought would be a good candidate for a hand-powered Amtryke. During COVID, the Walker Chapter amped up their ReCycle program, accepting and refurbishing used Amtrykes to donate to new families. They had a tryke perfect for Aidan’s needs, and Musketon Chapter President Cathie Gagnon accompanied Aidan and his mom to meet Al LeMieux of the Walker Chapter at their Amtryke trailer. Aidan took his new Amtryke home that day, and immediately began riding it around his neighborhood. “His new bike caught the attention of the neighborhood and soon kids were knocking on Aiden’s door asking him to come out and ride bikes with them,” said Robin.
Hearing about the struggles to get Max a tricycle, Al pulled out a second Amtryke from their supply and Robin drove it to Max’s house.
Max was born with Down’s Syndrome and couldn’t ride a bike, but because he didn’t need all the bells and whistles of an Amtryke, the Muskegon chapter approved the purchase of a tricycle from a local bike shop. After almost one year of waiting for the tricycle, the bike shop informed Max’s family that the tricycle was not going to arrive. So, when we finished fitting and loading up with Aiden’s Amtryke that day, we found a donated Amtryke for Max to trial, so Robin loaded up the Amtryke in her trunk and brought it to school to Max to try out.
“Max, who is typically wary of motor skill activities had a huge smile ear to ear. His mother and our special education director were present and their smiles were almost as big as Max’s.” Max was able to take the donated Amtryke home that day, and has ridden it every day since.
Huge kudos to Cathie of Muskegon Chapter, and Al and Jerry of Walker Chapter, for helping connect Robin and her students with their Amtrykes.