|Parker and Chris try the bike out for the first time.|
The Layton family likes to bike together. But when Parker, 8, outgrew the bike trailer they were using to tow him, they needed another option; preferably one that would allow Parker to sit in front of the person pedaling for him. (Parker has Down syndrome.)
The Laytons hoped he could ride where they could see him during their outdoor ventures.
They looked online, and found a solution that would work... for $5,000.
So they began networking with other families of Down Syndrome children, in person and on Facebook, "The first hit we got said, 'We're following this because we have the same problem,'" said Christopher Layton, Parker's dad. They found a used bike in Texas, but before they could make arrangements to bring it to their home in Utah, it was gone.
"I thought about a GoFundMe page," Christopher said. When a friend suggested he should contact the Utah Assistive Technology Program's Assistive Technology Lab, he gave it a try.
Within days he was talking to Mike Stokes, a volunteer with the AT Lab. Mike brought in Todd McGregor, another volunteer, and together they began creating something new and wonderful, using parts from five old bikes...
... a high-end jogging stroller and a custom-made box...
... plus a sawed-off chair.
|Shawn Atkinson with his donated creation.|
Shawn Atkinson of Atkinson Furniture & Upholstery covered the chair in Aggie blue and added the U State logo. Jim Kofed at the Logan Deseret Industries donated bikes and other materials.
The two volunteers took it out for a test spin, to make sure it felt strong enough to support an eight-year-old boy.
Finally, they finished the project...
...and invited the family over to give it a try. Parker was nervous about the harness, but once he wore the lap belt and experienced a ride, he was smiling wide.
"The biggest reward in volunteering at the AT Lab is seeing the expressions of happiness, and knowing that the person will live a better life when we complete a project," said Stokes.
|Parker's first ride, in a slow, controlled environment. He is wearing a lap belt in this photo, and will wear safety gear|
as he becomes more accustomed to the new equipment.