individual, no matter their ability level, deserves to experience independence,
freedom and the ability to communicate. However, for some children, complex
medical conditions – and the mobility issues they can create – present
this, Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare developed an Adaptive Technology
and Sports Fund in 2015. Gillette is an independent, specialty care hospital
that serves children and adults who have complex musculoskeletal and
neurological conditions, like cerebral palsy, spina bifida and traumatic brain
injuries. Besides mobility problems, these conditions can result in abnormal
muscle tone and issues maintaining balance.
adaptive equipment exists, it comes at a price that is unattainable for many
families. An adapted bicycle, for example, costs between $1,000 and $5,000 or
more. An iPad equipped with technology to help a nonverbal child communicate
can cost upwards of $2,500. The benefits, however, can’t be understated. There
are physical benefits, certainly: riding a bike helps children by keeping
muscles active and by improving strength and coordination. There are social and
emotional advantages to adaptive bikes and technology, too, like the ability to
engage with peers in the classroom or enjoy a family bike ride.
raises money to support the Adaptive Technology and Sports Fund by holding
annual fundraising events such as Pedal in Place (a stationary bike race during
which teams fundraise to participate), Walk and Roll (a family-friendly walk
around St. Paul’s Como Park) and the Friends of Gillette holiday gala. Grants
are given throughout the year and any Gillette family may apply. Eligibility is
need-based, with generous income guidelines that allow the majority of applying
families to qualify. During 2017, Gillette granted 50 families funds toward
bikes, computers or other equipment with funds totaling $114,611.
Technology and Sports Fund is supported by a team of 10 to 15 individuals who
review applications and determine qualifying families each year. The team also
holds an annual Adapted Bike Expo, an opportunity for families to test-ride
bikes and identify which type of bike best meets their child’s needs.
Valentine, 5, is one of the 50 Gillette patients to receive a grant from the
Adaptive Technology and Sports Fund in 2017. Gavin has cerebral palsy and needs
a special bike with a seatbelt to provide support for his body and “sandal
pedals” so his feet can be strapped in, as well as customized handle bars and a
“Gavin has an
older brother who rides his bike all the time,” said his mom, Crescence
Valentine. “Gavin looks up to his big brother and wants to ride bikes with him.
We received the letter stating Gavin will receive a full grant for his bike and
we were both so happy we cried!”