Student Newsroom

AMBUCS gives away free bikes adapted for children with mobility issues


AMBUCS President Larry Windingland and Mario Lopez talk before loading an adaptive bike into Lopez’s van on Feb. 14 at the Urbana Gardens restaurant. The bike made for children with mobility issues will go to Lopez’s son, who has muscular dystrophy. By Mae Antar

AMBUCS, a non-profit organization that aims to help people with disabilities, held its regular weekly meeting at Urbana Gardens restaurant on Feb. 14, where members ate lunch, welcomed new members, held a raffle, discussed important upcoming events and gave away an adaptive bike called an Amtryke. 

An Amtryke is a tricycle made specifically for children with disabilities. These bikes come from the national office, but chapters fundraise, build, and donate, according to Larry Windingland, president of AMBUCS Greater Champaign County Chapter. 

"Everybody at AMBUCS is a volunteer,” Windingland said. “Nobody gets paid a dime.”

Members come together to organize fundraisers, build ramps and build Amtrykes, he said. Amtrykes costs could range from $800 to 1,000, Windingland said. 

The Valentine's Day recipient of the Amtryke was a 7-year-old boy named Mario Lopez, who has muscular dystrophy. This will be Mario's second bike. 

Mario Lopez, the boy's father, was at the meeting to receive the Amtryke. 

"When he first started, he couldn't do anything, and [I] had to push him,” said Lopez, who speaks Spanish and had his sentences translated by an AMBUCS volunteer. “Now he's able to move it himself.

"Mario wants to go out frequently to go ride his bike, and he enjoys it tremendously."

Muscular dystrophy causes weakness and loss of muscle mass, which can prevent people with the condition from using traditional bikes, according to the Mayo Clinic’s website.  

The organization gives away about 35 bikes a year at weekly meetings and big events, Windingland said. 

AMBUCS held its biggest fundraising event of the year – called the Cash Bash –in mid-February, volunteer Keith Jamieson said.

The organization gave away another Amtryke, along with other cash prizes at the fundraiser.