Title Sponsor Strider Presents Inspiration Award at Sturgis Hall of Fame Breakfast
Announces Strider Education Foundation
Rapid City, SD (August 23, 2017) — Strider Bikes, the world’s leading manufacturer and marketer of children’s balance bikes, was the presenting sponsor for the 2017 Sturgis Museum Hall of Fame induction ceremonies held on August 9 in conjunction with the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. To kick off the ceremonies, its founder, Ryan McFarland, presented the Strider Inspiration Award to David Drolc, age 10. Despite having Down syndrome, David learned to balance and ride on a Strider 12” balance bike, and most recently, on a motorcycle. Upon watching David master a motorcycle on the large screen video, over 800 leather-clad motorcycle enthusiasts jumped to their feet with a standing ovation for the young man receiving the Inspiration Award.
“Strider is changing the paradigm of how kids learn to ride and setting the new standard for how young children explore the world on two wheels and ultimately make their own history,” says McFarland. “To that end, we just announced the formation of a non-profit, the Strider Education Foundation, whose mission is to inspire new riders of all abilities to a life of two-wheeled adventures for years to come. Someday, these kids may be future inductees into the Sturgis Museum's Hall of Fame.”
For more information about the Strider Education Foundation, to donate, or to inquire about a Strider Education Foundation donation for an organization, please visit www.StriderEducationFoundation.org.
About Strider Sports International, Inc.
Strider Sports designs efficient, balance bikes for children ages 18 months – 5 years, and for older riders with balance and coordination challenges. Strider’s mission is to simplify a bike, so proper size and weight combine to eliminate the fear of riding and instill confidence. Strider Bikes allow riders to learn balance, leaning, and steering; thus eliminating the need for tricycles or training wheels. Founded in 2007 in Rapid City, S.D., Strider has sold over 1.7 million bikes which are distributed in over 75 countries. It has donated over $850,000 through its Rider Fund. Visit www.StriderBikes.com, Facebook or Instagram.
About The Museum
The Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame's mission is to collect, preserve and interpret the history of motorcycling; honor those who have made a positive and significant impact on the sport and lifestyle; and pay tribute to the heritage of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Our vision is to continue as a world-class museum offering comprehensive and educational exhibits and showcasing rare and unusual motorcycles significant to our history and our sport. The Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame stands out because of the fact that we not only document the history of the machines, we document the history of the people who have shaped and changed the sport and lifestyle. This will be a resource and inspiration for future generations. Honor the Ride… Build the Legacy!
Per its official website, World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD), observed on March 21st every year, is a “global awareness day which has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012. The date for WDSD being the 21st day of the 3rd month, was selected to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome.”
As I reflect on working with Strider Bikes to share stories of their special needs outreach, four extraordinary individuals come to mind.
Marissa with Moxie
When I met Marissa, the word “moxie” popped into my head. Dictionary.com defines it has having “courage, nerve or vigor.” Marissa has all three – to the max – and arrived pumped up to participate in the 2016 Strider Cup World Championship.
Her mom, Mary, said when Marissa first got her Strider Bike four months before the race, she was afraid of bikes due to previous bad experiences with pedal bikes. It didn’t take long for Marissa to master her balance on the no-pedal Strider balance bike with enough skill and speed to win the world title. Her mom also said riding the Strider helped her lose 25 pounds in the last year and improve her endurance.
See Marissa leading the pack and holding her trophy high on the podium in this 2016 Strider World Championship recap video. (special needs racing starts at 1:25”)
Best Friends Ali and Grady
I’ll never forget meeting Ali and Grady at the 2015 Strider Cup World Championship. Their teacher, Amy, told me the two were best buddies and had greatly improved their balance skills riding Strider Bikes in and outside the classroom. The smiles on their faces were contagious, as they teased each other about who would win.
From the starting gate, Ali led the entire race, striding along with her swift, long legs. As I watched her determined grin, I remembered Amy telling me that many folks have no idea about the challenges people with special needs have learning to ride a bike – a milestone many take for granted.
At the end of the race, Grady managed to push just a bit harder, thundering by Ali in the last few feet to take the top podium spot. They both won, though. The independence and confidence of starting on a Strider Bike has helped each transition to pedal bikes. More on Ali, Grady and Amy in the article, 5 Areas of Impact STRIDER Bikes Have with My Special Education Students.
Ryan is a man I admire greatly. He founded Strider Bikes in 2007. Strider has sold over 1.5 million no-pedal, balance bikes, mostly the 12” models, for kids 5 and under. Ryan decided a few years ago to create larger sizes (16” model and 20” model) for older children and adults with balance and coordination challenges. The bikes have changed the lives of hundreds of individuals with Down syndrome, such as Marissa, Ali and Grady.
Ryan is also one of the most philanthropic CEO’s I know. To date, Strider has donated over $850,000 in cash and bikes to organizations that serve children and adults in need. Strider formalized its benevolence commitment with the creation of The Rider Fund, first introduced June 2014 at the Special Olympics USA Games. Since then, Strider has committed one percent of gross revenue from all sales worldwide to this fund. Last year, the Governor of South Dakota presented Strider with a Distinguished Service Award for helping individuals with special needs.
Strider Education Foundation
For more information visit www.StriderEducationFoundation.org.
Each of the 2017 Strider Cup Races will have Special Needs Races, and the entry fee is waived for those participants. The races are in Fort Worth, Texas (May 6); Pittsburgh, PA (May 27); Lincoln, NE (June 10); and the Strider Cup World Championship in Salt Lake City (July 21-22). Information on signing up a racer with special needs is at 2017 Strider Cup - Special Needs Racing.
A special guest post by Amy Heuston Special Education Teacher at Central High School in Rapid City, SD
I watched in awe and exhilaration as I cheered on two of our school’s Special Olympics athletes recently in the Special Needs Races at the Strider World Championship. Sweet, yet quite competitive, 13-year-old Ali led most of the race, agilely keeping just ahead of 19-year-old Grady. His longer legs and strong stature gave him a powerful push, and he edged past her at the finish.
As we congratulated each other with hugs, I smiled with pride and pure joy. I could hardly believe that just two years prior, neither of them had ridden a two-wheeled bike. And here they were, speeding along on STRIDER Balance Bikes, nimbly navigating cones and ramps, then celebrating with friends and family as they enjoyed the freedom and accomplishment of riding a bicycle—a milestone that many of us take for granted.
As a Special Education Teacher at Central High School in Rapid City, SD, I use 13 STRIDER Bikes with my students. They aren’t just an “extra” developmental tool, they’re a huge part of our program. We keep them in our classroom and use the bikes often. We incorporate the STRIDERs with our science curriculum to demonstrate their ability while riding to “observe or experience speed,” which is one of the areas they need to understand on the standardized tests. I also integrate examples and exercises using STRIDERs into their Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).
We knew the STRIDERs would have physical benefits, which were confirmed by a recent study of kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). But I have seen their impact in five areas; PT, OT, Speech, Behavioral and Social. What we’ve seen with our students aligns with studies such as Motor Profile of Children With Developmental Speech and Language Disorder, which found that, “developmental speech and language disorders are frequently associated with motor problems … The findings support the need to give early and more attention to the motor skills of children with developmental speech and language disorders in the educational and home setting, with special attention to children whose speech is affected.”
This research article, The Motor-Cognitive Connection: Early Fine Motor Skills as an Indicator of Future Success, states, “There is a clear connection in the circuitry of the brain between areas controlling fine motor skills and areas controlling cognition … These areas are developing simultaneously, with exceptional speed during early brain development.”
1. Physical Therapy (PT): Grady is just one of my students who has made great strides with his gross motor skills, balance and coordination from riding, and even transitioned to a pedal bike after nine months of riding the STRIDER Bike two to three times a week. The progression of walking and then striding on the bikes also helps improve core stability and strength. Some of the kids even show off their “BMX-style” tricks by standing up on the foot rests and sticking out one leg.
2. Occupational Therapy (OT): Many kids with autism also have Sensory Processing Disorder. This interrupts learning, as they want to crash and move, so it is hard to sit still and focus. Sensory seekers thrive from sensory input, and the “rushing” that goes by their ears as they ride a STRIDER provides this sensation.
Riding stimulates the vestibular system which we use to negotiate balance. It also helps the proprioceptive system, which refers to sensory input and feedback telling us about movement and body position. This physical movement and sensory input has a calming effect. One of my students has severe autism and riding a STRIDER helps calm him down.
Experts in SPD know riding bikes helps in several areas. The article Sensory Processing Disorder: Vestibular Dysfunction reinforces that, “Riding a bike is good for helping almost all of the senses, especially vestibular and proprioceptive. Balance can really be a struggle for lots of kids. Giving opportunities to have fun and practice using the vestibular system is important.”
Some teachers overlook the need for physical movement with kids with special needs. Every teacher has to figure out the reason. Is it just unusual behavior? Is he simply being “a boy?” Or is it SPD? One boy I have is a “bouncer” who bounces on a ball. He also bounces when he’s on his STRIDER.
3. Speech Therapy: I am positive that riding a STRIDER balance bike has increased the vocabulary of my students. When they experience something new, they talk about it with peers and family. One student rarely communicated last year. He loves being on a STRIDER so much that when we did karaoke, he insisted he do it while sitting on the bike, and he even made it “dance.”
He loves cops and robbers, so we put a picture of the siren on the handlebars. He would ride around the room making siren noises and talking to people. This year, his behaviors are better and his vocabulary has improved. I’m sure there are many contributing factors, but I believe the STRIDER is one of them.
4. Behavioral Interventions: In regard to student behaviors, I use the bikes both as a reward and also preventative measure. As a reward, they sometimes have to earn the opportunity to ride by showing good behavior. This works particularly well with some students, as the incentive to ride helps encourage them to focus on work.
As a preventative measure, I know riding helps calm them down. So if I see one of them getting agitated, I suggest we take a spin on the bike. I schedule time in our weekly plans to ride at least two or three times a week, but sometimes we ride all five days. When it’s nice, we ride outside. If it isn’t, we just take them around the halls. The administration understands how important time on the bikes is for our students.
5. Social Skills: Riding helps them to be socially accepted and do something their peers are doing—those with special needs and typical kids. We even play games together on STRIDERs at school.
The Adaptive PE teacher is also stoked about STRIDERs and has the kids compete against each other in a game kicking a large, lightweight Omnikin sport ball while riding the bikes. This helps develop their spatial awareness of self in relation to people and objects around them. While they’re competitively playing, they are looking up, paying attention and following the rules.
At least two of our Special Olympics athletes have even transitioned to pedal bikes, which makes me think of a sixth benefit of learning to ride: mobility. Riding gives them the opportunity to even ride to work someday, which would provide a more positive and independent future!
Some people who are outside the field of disabilities may say, “Oh, that’s cute,” when they see an individual with a disability riding a bike. They have no idea how challenging it can be to get that to the point of riding on two wheels, nor do they understand the impact riding has in several areas of their lives. The five areas above build upon each other; improved spatial awareness helps them feel more comfortable riding and spend more time doing it, which increases agility, balance and strength. With better behavior, their social skills with peers and family members improve.
Someday I want to pursue an MA and would love to do a research project on STRIDER’s impact in each of these areas. I know the results would be significant, as I see it every day in my school!
STRIDER Bikes had the opportunity this weekend to show our support for South Dakota Special Olympics and gave a few kids the opportunity to ride on two wheels for the first time! We had athletes and siblings alike checking out the Adventure Zone and trying out the STRIDER Super 16 and ST-4. We couldn’t be more excited to spread the word about the benefits the STRIDER No Pedal Balance Bike has on children of all abilities, including early childhood development, kids just learning to ride, and children with Low Muscle Tone and Special Needs to name a few.
Be sure to join the all new Strider Bikes – Special Needs Community Page on Facebook!