LA CROSSE, Wis. - Two young children in the La Crosse area are getting to experience something their parents didn’t think would be possible for them.
At Gundersen hospital in La Crosse, two-year-old Jude Schipper rode his own bike for the first time Saturday.
Slowly but surely, he was getting the hang of it.
"It's huge because someday he'll be in control of where he wants to go,” his mother, Megan Schipper, said.
Learning to pedal takes encouragement, determination, and for Jude, it also takes a certain kind of bike -- one that’s foot and hand propelled.
"Jude had spinobiphida, and he was born without his left leg,” Megan Schipper said. “He's been through a lot."
Four-year-old Trinity Wilkins also can't ride a normal bike. Her mother Julie Wilkins said that she was born at just 25 weeks, and hasn't been able to develop the necessary skills.
"It was sad because she sits on the porch and watches her sisters ride their bikes,” Wilkins said.
"A lot of families don't even think about biking as an option for a child with a disability,” said Cassidy Sanchez, president of Western Wisconsin Wheels, a group that helps connect families with adaptive bikes.
"It increases their independence, range of motion, strength and flexibility, and they can play with their friends and family just like the other kids,” she said.
Sanchez said custom trikes can come in at over $1,000.
Western Wisconsin Wheels helps families raise funds for the bikes, and in Jude and Trinity's cases, the Children's Miracle Network helped foot the bill.
"It's just so special that he gets to have a bike,” Schipper said.
At the park, Trinity tried out her new wheels, complete with rear steering and a loop handlebar.
"This gives her a chance to ride with her sisters and gives her the opportunity to be part of the crowd,” Wilkins said.
Even just riding around the hospital, the smiles on mom and dad's faces almost rival Jude and Trinity's.
"Joy,” Schipper said. “Complete joy. Happiness.”
"I'm just gonna ride it all day,” Trinity said, with a big grin on her face.
These two trikes mark the 47th and 48th trikes delivered by Western Wisconsin Wheels since it began just over two years ago, and Sanchez said that number will be up to 50 by the end of the weekend.
The group is affiliated with AMBUCS, which is a national organization providing therapeutic tricycles to those with disabilities.
To find out more, visit Western Wisconsin Wheels facebook page here.
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