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Wheels Across Montana Loans Bikes To Disabled Montanans

A disabled veteran cyclist rides in a race near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on April 26, 2016.
DoD News, CC 160424-D-DB155-001
A disabled veteran cyclist rides in a race near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on April 26, 2016.

Summertime in Montana beckons bicyclists in hordes. They hit the trails to enjoy nature, exercise, and to spend time with each other. But for Montanans with disabilities, the sport can be inaccessible.

"Biking is something Montanans love to do, but an adaptive trike can cost between $800 and $6,000."

That’s Mindy Renfro, with Montana’s Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities. She says that the limitations to cycling for people with disabilities can be mental, physical and financial. So the Rural Institute applied for a $75,000 grant to loan people with disabilities adaptive bikes and trikes in Missoula, Dillon, Billings, and Fort Peck. The program is called Wheels Across Montana, and will be picking up speed for the rest of the summer.

"We gave a bike out the other day to a family with a young boy who was 10 years old who had severe autism. And the mom got teared up, and she said, ‘I haven’t been able to be physically active, my daughter hasn’t been able to be physically active.’ Because they didn’t want to go and not include their son," says Renfro.

The grant, provided by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, will let Wheels Across Montana start providing bikes on August 1. Each of the four locations will have between six and 12 adaptive bikes to loan. The programs will be run by two organizations in each town that focus on recreation and healthcare for people with disabilities.

This Friday, people in Missoula can try out adaptive trikes and bicycles and other equipment at McCormick Park from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

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