NEW CASTLE — In summers past, all Brenna Cullers and Andrew Jaskola could do was watch other kids ride by them on their bikes.
That all changed Friday when both children received a special gift — a customized, adaptive bike from Variety the Children’s Charity. The presentation took place at Jameson Hospital as part of the Highmark My Bike Program.
It was a happy day for Brenna, 9 and Andrew, 8. And their mothers were ecstatic, too.
Kandy Cullers of Neshannock Township couldn’t help but brush aside tears as she watched her daughter, who has Down Syndrome, get on the bike for the first time.
“I’m thrilled to death about this,” Kandy said. “It’s another step to independence. We tried other bikes with training wheels but it was difficult for her to pedal and steer.”
When she learned that Brenna would receive a bike, “I sat at the kitchen table and cried. Something as simple as a bike means so much. It seems like a rite of passage.”
Noelle Jaskola described how other bikes also were tried with Andrew, who has spina bifida, but didn’t work out. The Ellwood City resident choked up as she explained, “It’s hard when other kids can ride bikes and he can’t.”
Each bike was also decked out with a ribbon.
Brenna’s first reaction was “cool” as she got comfortable on her new ride. And she wanted to pedal as soon as she sat down.
When Andrew first laid eyes on the bike, he exclaimed, “Yes.”
Brenna, on her neon green bike and Andrew on a shiny red bicycle both rode from the conference room of the hospital out into the sunshine with smiles that never left their faces.
It was a parade of sorts with those two leading the show.
Variety The Children’s Charity provides adaptive bikes to children with disabilities.