Riders with disabilities get new bikes with help from Mary Free Bed

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- For many of us, getting our first bicycle is a memory that's hard to forget. On Saturday, a group of disabled children and adults had the chance to experience that memory for the first time.

FOX 17’s Candese Charles witnessed the bike riders taking off on their new set of wheels.

"Watch out everybody, here he comes!"

Seven-year-old Ezra Ippel has been waiting for this moment for weeks.

"I was going super fast,” Ippel said.

And for his mom, Kendra, finding the right bike for Ezra is a dream come true.

"I feel really lucky to be able to find a bike that he fits in well and is just able to take off, “Kendra said. “We can't just go to Toys-R-Us and pick out a bike. We can't go to the local garage sale and pick out a bike."

So, the Mary Free Bed Guild is filling their garage with bikes for nearly 80 children and adults with disabilities.

It’s been a 23-year tradition for them.

"Bikes for the Rest of Us" has put hundreds of new riders on the bike path and let others take another step toward independence.

"Once our patients leave here or they continue to be outpatients here it's so important to not only find their new normal but to do activities that their peers do,” said Carol Springer, Mary Free Bed Guild President.

Adaptive Sports Vendors, occupational therapists and more coming together to make it happen.

"Those bikes are so specialized for various disability types that it takes a really smart mind. Some of these vendors are really great at working with our therapists and matching that disability with the specialized bike and so they sometimes have to tweak a little bit, provide a foot strap, maybe changing a seating mechanism, somehow to customize the bike to get it right to where they want it before they place the order," said Maria Besta, Mary Free Bed Wheelchair and Adaptive Sports Manager.

The cost of the bikes ranges from $800 to $6,000, but many riders leave the event with free or cheaper rides.

"it's a real community event and people are bringing their old bikes in to recycle them. There's vendors there for new bikes, everybody wants to see somebody leave in a bike," said Kendra.

It makes it possible for any rider to set their sights on a different and more exciting biking goal.

"I'm going to race my sister," said Ippel.

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