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These special bicycles are bringing smiles and hope to children

MIDLOTHIAN, Va. — Nearly two dozen children received their own bicycles Monday night thanks to the work of volunteers with the non-profit Richmond Empowering Abilities for Children with Cycles or REACHcycles.

The group provides specialty cycles to children with disabilities and veterans.

“Some of them, you would’ve never thought they would have been able to ride a bike and they are,” mother Jennifer Davis said.

Davis’ daughter has cerebral palsy and is one of the children who received a custom made bike.

“We bought her a bike at Christmas and we realized she couldn’t ride it. She couldn’t hold herself up,” Davis said.

REACHcycles President James Howard said children and families do not usually get these special bikes covered through insurance. The bikes cost between $300 and $1200. Howard, who moved to Richmond in October and started the nonprofit with just five cycles in May.

“I actually received an adapted hand cycle myself at a disabled veteran’s event three years ago,” Howard explained.

Howard said that bike gave him a new sense of inspiration and independence.

“I have that freedom and ability to get out do something on my own, be independent. And be around others doing the same thing helped me move forward with my injury and seeing that made me want to provide that for others too,” Howard said.

The group partnered with Journey Church on Sunday to help assemble the 23 bikes which were distributed Monday.

The group of volunteers, which included more than 60 VCU Medical Center students, helped customize each bike for a special child.

“They are fitted and evaluated based on their disease or disability to have the best chair that fits them comfortably and give them the proper safety to operate the cycle,” Howard said.

Howard said he hoped the cycles helped the children as much as they helped him.

“The little things like this that mean so much and meant so much to me four years ago,” he said.

Howard said the group planned to keep presenting bikes to children every two to three months.

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