Adaptive Cycling1

Case Study: Adaptive Cycling

Preston's March for Energy (PMFE) was incorporated in Wilmington, DE in 2011 when founders, Deb and Steve Buenaga saw a need for adaptive bikes. Their son, Preston, a young boy with Mitochondrial Disease, received his first adaptive bike from a fundraiser. Deb and Steve realized the impact an adaptive bike had on Preston's freedom and saw a need for more children to enjoy the thrill of riding a bike, something they may not be able to experience due to a disability. Preston was so excited about his newfound independence that Deb and Steve knew they had to pay it forward.

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The Buenaga family was determined to make this happen for other children. They started raising funds to provide bikes to children with all types of disabilities. With the help of some generous donations from family and friends, Deb and Steve recruited board members and had PMFE incorporated. Both Deb and Steve understand that many children with disabilities cannot ride a typical bike. Therefore, they made sure PMFE adapts each bike to the individual child and their abilities, including their favorite color. The cost of each bike may vary between $1,500-$2,500 depending on the needs of the child.

Children with disabilities often have a higher rate of childhood obesity. The need for adaptive recreational equipment and family involvement is important for children to enjoy time together participating in physical activity. PMFE's mission is to provide adaptive bikes to children 6 to 21 across the United States with special needs so they can feel independent, be physically active, and can be involved in social activities with family and friends. There is no financial obligation, but the organization encourages families to pay it forward. They receive applications for bikes through their webpage.

Over the past 5 years PMFE has relied on corporate donations, individual donations, fundraisers, and most recently they have been applying for grants, both locally and nationwide. They have also partnered with other non-profits with similar missions. Some of these are ATI Foundation, Kids with Confidence, Irish Pub Children's Foundation, Watermark  Foundation, local Rotary Clubs, the local Chamber of Commerce, and The Noblemen. They also have long-time yearly corporate sponsors such as Discover Card Services and J&A Racing.

PMFE also offers a book by Todd Civin called A Bike to Call their Own that tells the story about Preston and his March Energy and their mission for others to follow. 

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In addition, they hold four events a year. The Yuengling Shamrock Marathon accommodates all ages and skill levels and includes a huge finish line celebration on the beach. Each year 30,000 runners from all 50 states and several other countries enjoy this event in Virginia Beach, VA. In 2016, J&A Racing presented 10 bikes to 10 very special children from the Hampton Roads  area during the Shamrock weekend. The Corporate 5K, presented by Discover, provides an opportunity for companies in Delaware to gather and help raise funds to help other children smile with an adaptive bike of their own. The 5K is held through the streets of one of the largest Discover Corporate Parks in New Castle Country. The Fusion 5 and Dime 5 & 10 mile races are held through Newark, Delaware starting and finishing on Main Street After the race, the party continues downtown at Newark's Food and Brew. Adaptive athletes are highly encouraged and welcomed. After the race, participants can use their 5 and Cookies event, invites local bakers to bake cookies. They invite celebrity judges that decide which is the Top the Putty for Preston event raises funds for adaptive bikes while making slime. A minimum $10 donation is encouraged and more is welcomed.

To date, they have presented over 180 bikes to some very deserving children. Seeing their smile when they ride their bike for the first time is absolutely priceless. 

"I'm thrilled to be able to share Preston's story and advocate for adaptive cycling in other communities."

-Deb Buenaga, CEO, Preston's March for Energy

This case study and other bike-related case studies can be found in our Shift Into Gear® guidebook.

This article was written by Deb Buenaga, Shift Into Gear: A Bicycling Advocacy Resource.

Photo Credits: prestonsmarch.org.

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