By Paul and Susan Carson
FACT Oregon’s All Ability Tri4Youth is the only barrier-free triathlon on the West Coast. Youth and young adults with and without disabilities compete individually or on teams in a 50-meter swim, 2-mile bike ride, and ½-mile run.
The All Ability Tri4Youth is for everyone! If your child doesn’t ride a traditional 2-wheeler, you might be wondering, “How can my child participate in the bike portion of the course?”
Here are some ideas, and some info on how we did it:
We’ve always loved to bike together as a family, starting with our son Anthony riding in the infant seat on the back of Mom or Dad’s bike. Eventually he outgrew his infant/toddler seat but wasn’t yet ready to bike on his own. The next step for many kids is a Tag Along but with Anthony’s low muscle tone, we were concerned that he might not be able to balance safely on it. Our solution was a seat back and harness found on Amazon. Eventually, Anthony was ready for more independence and he now loves to ride along with us on his own adaptive trike. His trike has given him a wonderful burst of confidence, independence, and empowerment. And it’s super fun to ride!
There’s a wide range of adaptive bikes and trikes to explore. Every child is an individual, so it’s good to try out some different equipment to see what’s the best fit. FACT has a list of resources that can help, and you can also ask the physical therapist or Adaptive PE teacher at your child’s school for suggestions on where to try out or even borrow some equipment.
We tried out a few options, and Anthony really took to the Mobo Triton. While less expensive than many adaptive bike options, the Mobo still had a hefty price tag of almost $300, and so we looked for ways to help defray the cost. It took some research and paperwork, but we were able to have the full cost covered by the K-Plan. Based on our experience, we recommend these steps to getting an adaptive bike or trike for your own child. If you start now, your child could have a new bike in plenty of time to start training for the All Ability Tri4Youth. We’ll see you on the course August 10th!
Step 1. Ask your child’s doctor for a “medical necessity” letter that you can submit to your health insurance provider. Be sure the letter explains that the bike will help with your child’s physical therapy goals, and that it’s not just for recreation. Your child’s PT can help with wording.
Step 2: Submit a request to your health insurance provider requesting coverage for the adaptive bike or trike you have chosen. Include your medical necessity letter with the request. The insurance company will either approve your request, or (more likely) they will send you a denial letter. If they send you a denial letter, don’t get discouraged! Go to Step 3.
Step 3. Once you have your insurance denial letter, you can apply for a grant from a foundation (e.g., Wheel to Walk) or ask your case manager to request payment for the bike through the K-Plan. It’s important to go through step 2 first, because the K-Plan and most foundations will usually require that you first try going through your health insurance.