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Pedal Power

The cost of raising a child today is more than $245,000, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And you can multiply the amount by at least ten times when your child has special needs.

“Do you pay for a babysitter so you can go to work? An iPad and software so we can communicate? Or a side-by-side bike so he can exercise and enjoy himself? The bike was the first thing to be eliminated; it just wasn’t in our budget,” says Hasmig Tempesta, whose 12-year-old son, Zach, is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

“Zach’s medications make him gain weight, and it’s a challenge to get him to exercise,” continues the Elkhorn, WI mom. “He only likes swimming and bikes. He can’t ride independently, so we tried a standard tandem bike, but he is already bigger than I am, so it was unmanageable.”

Then, at therapy, Hasmig discovered a tandem side-by-side bike crafted especially for special needs. It seemed the ideal way to keep Zach active, safely. She applied in February 2016 to the Geneva National Foundation for a grant for a $1,500 Worksman trike. The bike arrived two months later.

“When we first started, it was difficult to get down the street. Now we can go around the block twice and even to the Farmer’s Market,” says Tempesta. Even though it’s a three-wheel cycle, she says the tricycle has helped Zach with his balance. “He realizes he has to sit up straight to be able to work the bike properly – and he no longer leans over onto the armrest. He also knows that if he wants to go faster, he has to push harder.” And just as she wished, the exercise is helping maintain his weight. “Zach just had an increase in his meds, and for the first time is not gaining weight.”

Probably the greatest and most surprising gift of all, according to Tempesta, is the quality time. “It’s great to be able to do something alongside Zach, an activity that we can enjoy together.”

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