Heather’s Ride Brings Special-Needs Bikes to the Swamp Rabbit
By Leigh Savage –
Updated February 28, 2013
Source: Greenville Journal
Six months ago, an idea came to Stephen Houston, fully formed, as he sat in church: Put bikes on the Swamp Rabbit Trail for kids with special needs.
“It’s an activity we all take for granted,” said Houston, an avid mountain biker. “Kids that would never be able to ride a bike should get the chance to get the sensation we all get when zooming down the trail.”
That day, the Heather’s Ride program was born. Now a special-needs bike, valued at $7,200, is housed at TTR Bikes next to the Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery, waiting for families who want to reserve it. Houston, an account manager in pharmaceutical sales, is “very close” to getting funding for two more children’s bikes and another for adults with special needs.
“I want a whole army of these,” he said. “But I’m hoping to have four by May.”
The project was a natural fit for Houston, whose sister Heather was diagnosed with Sturge-Weber, a severe form of epilepsy, at age 3. Now 43, Heather continues to be an inspiration for him.
“She always focuses on what she can do and what she wants to do, not what she can’t do,” Houston said. Despite discomfort and spasticity on her left side caused by the disease, she rides 20 miles a day on her stationary bike, though she couldn’t ride on a trail on a regular bike because of the agility needed to steer around people and stop quickly.
The new Heather’s Ride bike eradicates those problems.