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Smiles of kids gifted adaptive bikes will 'warm your heart'

Smiles.jpg
Posted at 7:43 PM, Mar 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-05 19:52:33-05

RICHMOND, Va. – Twenty children received a new adaptive bike Saturday thanks to the kindness and generosity of an area nonprofit group.

Seven-year-old Emory Paulin was all smiles when she got on her bike and took off.

"I haven't ridden a bike since before I got my prosthetic leg," the 7-year-old from Powhatan said.

After a long year battling bone cancer and enduring an amputation, her family is adapting.

"She has been our trooper thru this for sure," her father, Jason Paulin, said. "We're adjusting to how things will be going forward."

Emory Paulin
Emory Paulin

U.S. Army veteran James Howard started Richmond Empowering Abilities for Children with Cycles or REACHcycles after he received a similar bike several months after a swimming accident left him paralyzed.

"I medically retired out of the military and got a bike that really helped with my recovery process and I always wanted to pay that forward to children," he said.

Howard said there is a huge need and demand for the cycles.

"It's amazing to see how far we've come," Howard said. "See those smiles, it warms your heart. It's just great day; a lot of happy kids."

The group has provided 650 bikes for differently-abled children since 2014.

With help from sponsors and volunteers, that included veteran biker groups, REACHcycles distributed 20 more three-wheeled cycles called AmTrykes this weekend.

The act of love saves families anywhere from $600 to $2,000 and are custom-made for each child based on their ability.

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"We knew that bike riding wasn't going to be something that she could do, but when she got on one of these, a light clicked on," Paulin said.

Emory said the ride was "awesome."

"You see these kids doing so much with what they have. They don't dwell on what they don't have," Howard said. "That's our motto for REACHcycles: the only disability in life is a bad attitude."

Each child was pre-selected by REACHcycles based on desire and need.

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