‘A chance to be a kid’

Two Newark kids re­ceive adap­tive bikes

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By JOSH SHAN­NON jshan­non@ches­pub.com

When­ever 5-year-old Mered­ith Beavers’ par­ents take her to a store that sells bi­cy­cles, she runs over to check out the bikes, wish­ing she could take one home.

How­ever, Mered­ith has cere­bral palsy, mak­ing it too dif­fi­cult to ride a bike like other kids, her mother, Lisa, said.

Un­til, that is, she re­ceived an early Christ­mas present from Pre­ston’s March for En­ergy, a lo­cal non­profit that gives cus­tom-made adap­tive bi­cy­cles to kids with dis­abil­i­ties. Mered­ith beamed last Fri­day night as she re­ceived the bike dur­ing a surprise pre­sen­ta­tion at Fu­sion Fit­ness, which do­nated the money for the bike.

“We’ll never be able to get her off of it now,” Lisa said as Mered­ith ped­aled around the gym in Mar­ket East Plaza.

Mered­ith was one of two kids who re­ceived a bike last week, with a third, yet-to-be­s­e­lected child to re­ceive one later.

Fu­sion mem­bers raised $5,500 with a three-week fit­ness com­pe­ti­tion, owner Nic DeCaire said. A to­tal of 89 peo­ple formed four teams and com­peted in a va­ri­ety of chal­lenges, which cul­mi­nated in a scav­enger hunt through down­town Newark.

“We really saw peo­ple get into it,” DeCaire said. “It’s bring­ing peo­ple to­gether and keep­ing them ac­tive dur­ing the hol­i­days.”

DeCaire and his gym mem­bers are no strangers to donat­ing bikes to de­serv­ing kids, hav­ing raised enough money to buy 20 bikes over the past three years. The most re­cent ef­fort, though, was par­tic­u­larly mov­ing be­cause the pre­sen­ta­tion hap­pened just three days be­fore Christ­mas.

“What bet­ter gift than kids get­ting a bike for the hol­i­days?” DeCaire said.

Deb Bue­naga, whose teenage son, Pre­ston, has mi­to­chon­drial dis­ease, started Pre­ston’s March for En­ergy in 2011 af­ter re­ceiv­ing do­na­tions to buy Pre­ston his own adap­tive bike. She said the bike gave Pre­ston a sense of in­de­pen­dence and free­dom and he en­joyed it so much he re­fused to get off.

She and her hus­band quickly de­cided they needed to pay it for­ward. Over the last six years, Pre­ston’s March for En­ergy has given away more than 250 adap­tive bikes to chil­dren across the coun­try.

The other re­cip­i­ent last week was 7-year-old Ma­son Read, who has schizen­cephaly, which gives him low mus­cle tone and makes it hard for him to con­trol his move­ments. The adap­tive bike in­cludes straps to keep him up­right and a push bar that his par­ents can use to help him get around on the bike.

“This gives him a new free­dom,” dad, T.J. Read, said. “This is the best present. It’s go­ing to be hard to top this.”

“It gives him a chance to be a kid,” mom Lindsey Seivert added.

NEWARK POST PHOTO BY JOSH SHAN­NON

Fu­sion Fit­ness mem­bers who helped raise money for two adap­tive bikes pose with re­cip­i­ents Ma­son Read and Mered­ith Beavers.

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