Remember the joy of riding a bike for the first time? That's exactly what we see on Beaumont's Bike Day.
More than a hundred kids are breaking in a new bike on this day. Thanks to Children's Miracle Network and Beaumont Children's Hospital, all the bikes have been customized for children with special needs. Each bike would easily cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, but they are free to these families and the benefits are priceless.
Eight-year-old Parker Shueller is one of those kids whose life was changed on Bike Day. Parker was born with multiple disabilities. His entire life he has struggled to walk, talk and fit in.
FOX 2 was there as he pedaled on his new bike for the first time. The bike is a custom-made ride just for him, and includes an integrated iPad into the design because that is how he's able to communicate.
You can watch Parker ride his new bike in the video report above
"On top of having a child who is physically disabled - they can't walk or do any of that on their own - it's also so difficult to have a child who can't talk to you and tell you, 'I can't do this anymore,' or, 'I want to go more,' typically things you would take for granted about the conversations that you have with a child while they are on a bike," says his mom, Nikki Shueller.
"From a physical standpoint, bike riding builds the strength of their legs and it also helps to have them learn how to separate their right leg from their left leg, which is a part of gate development walking. So if you think about when you walk to you have to disassociate your right and left leg, and you're doing that when you're pedaling a bike," explains Debbie Adesit, who's with the Beaumont Center for Child Rehabilitation.
"What's fun about it is, his old bike that he had, he could really never pedal on his own. We were pushing him and giving him full assistance. And now, I know on this bike, for the first time ever, we are just barely pushing him and he is actually doing the work to move the bike," says Nikki. She believes that this bike not only helps her son feel like any other kid, but it's putting him on a path to one day walking.
"So he is so close, so my hope is that now this is just going to be the extra exercise and boost that he needs to get to the point where we will actually see him walk. Which, as you can imagine, might be the greatest moment of my life," she says.
Beaumont's Bike Day started 12 years ago and has given away almost 800 bikes in that time. The joy that these bikes bring families is immeasurable.