MUSCATINE, Iowa-After six months of anxious anticipation, McKinley Elementary student Ryker Colon finally received the adaptive bike that will make his dreams of biking on his own a reality. A true community effort, the generosity of the Muscatine Pilot Club and work from the Mississippi Bend Area Education Association, Mississippi Bend Trykes, and Ryker’s kindergarten teacher Calie Pangburn, have made it possible for Ryker to experience a whole new type of independence.
Throughout his childhood, Ryker has dealt with general muscle weakness that doctors have not attributed to a specific condition. In fall of 2020, Ryker’s family began looking for a way to purchase a Mississippi Bend Tryke custom built adaptive bike to give him the chance to ride. Pangburn shared Ryker’s story with the Mississippi Bend AEA physical therapist Kathy Hahn. As luck would have it, Hahn belonged to the Muscatine Pilot Club and knew the group wanted to find people in need of bikes to sponsor after attending a presentation about Mississippi Bend Trykes at their district convention. The Pilot Club covered the cost to build Ryker’s bike, as well as the bikes of three other children from the county.
Bright and early May 1, Pangburn, three volunteers from Mississippi Trykes, and seven volunteers from the Muscatine Pilot Club met at the Muscatine Community Y to assemble the four bikes. After about three hours of work, Pangburn and several other volunteers had Ryker’s bike together.
At about noon, Ryker and his family arrived at the Y to test out his new bike. Thanks to a specially selected seat with support on all sides, Ryker had the assistance he needed to ride his bike successfully.
“I think he’s super happy,” said his mother, Brandi Colon. “I’m super happy because he’s wanted a bike for so long,” she added.
“It’s so exciting-it’s hard not to cry to see him have this much independence,” shared Pangburn. Recently, Ryker began using a power chair at school, allowing him to get around without assistance from a teacher or aide and building his confidence. Pangburn believes that giving Ryker a bike that will work for him will only continue to grow his confidence.
As the members of the Pilot Club watched Ryker, and the other three children, Griffin Crabtree, Jud McGill, and Penelope West try out their new bikes, they felt pleased that they could celebrate their Club’s 60th anniversary by helping children with special needs. “It’s exciting to see,” said Muscatine Pilot Club member Judy Lokenvitz. “That’s why we’re Pilots.”