For Kids With Disabilities, Learning To Ride A Bike Means Even More

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RENO, NV - Think back to that day.

Your first bike. Shiny and new. Your first shaky attempts, likely with your dad helping you stay upright. It wasn't long before you were staying up, confidence growing, enjoying accomplishment and a new freedom.

Until today, it's an experience a number of kids gathered in a warehouse in east Reno haven't had.

Their disabilities, Down Syndrome, autism, physical limitations, have kept from learning.

"Many kids with disabilities take a lot longer to learn how to ride a bike," says Diana Rovetti, President of the Down Syndrome Network of Northern Nevada. "A lot of parents give up, don't continue teaching their kids, don't have the right tools."

This week those right tools have been in use in a Bike Camp called iCan Bike.

The special bikes they're learning on are furnished by the non-profit organization iCan Shine brought to Reno by Rovetti's network and the Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities.

The roller replacing the rear wheel and the family members and volunteers assisting provide the balance while confidence builds.

Paul Rimaldi is watching his son, fifteen year old Peter, roll around the course.

"What I'm hoping here is that we build his confidence. This is really more about him learning that he can accomplish something, push through and feel good about it."

The goal is to graduate to a conventional bike. When that happens it can be an emotional moment for all concerned.

"We have kids actually in tears," says Rovetti. "We have a lot of moms and dads in tears. They can't believe it. Some dads have show up here. The wanted to come and see because they couldn't believe that it was happening for their child. They didn't think that would ever be a possibility."

Waiting for Peter Rimaldi is a shiny new bike and as he gains confidence and balance. It's time to try it out. No roller. No training wheels, just a boy and his bike.

Rimaldi is looking ahead

"Once he gets on his bike and suddenly realizes he has new freedom I'll be having to run after him because he'll just go and take off as he likes to do anyway. Now he's got wheels.

And that, he adds, "will be a new fun thing to do."

And at the end of these sessions just about everyone is rolling around the parking lot outside riding on two wheels just like any other kid,

You remember what that was like. It was a big deal.