NORTON, Ohio – A six-year-old boy can now ride a bicycle just like his friends. It’s all thanks to students at the University of Akron and a group of dedicated professionals.
Wesley Radebaugh was born with a rare genetic condition called spinocerebellar ataxia, type 29. It affects his motor skills and he uses braces and a walker for short distances. He needs a wheelchair for longer trips.
Wesley always wanted to ride a bike but was unable to, until now.
The Summit County Developmental Disabilities Board contacted Akron’s Biomedical Engineering Design Team for help and they delivered. They created a special bike that includes 3D printed pedals, a charging/control box, an electronic braking system and more.
After eleven months of fine tuning, they presented the finished product to Wesley at his school, Norton Primary, on Wednesday. Wesley couldn’t stop smiling as he took a few spins around the gymnasium.
His father, Jared, was thrilled. “When the opportunity came to build a bike that looked like every other kids bike that Wes would be able to ride adapted to him, we were obviously very excited. And now seeing the finished product, we are excited to get it out on the road.”
Wesley’s mother Jen said it is hard to measure what the bike will mean. “Oh, he loves to do everything that other kids do so once you see your brother on a bike he’s gonna be right there with him so now he can do that.”
Professionals from Air Enterprises, Innovation Garage and Akron Children’s Hospital played key roles in the project.
And Wesley doesn’t even need to wait until spring to use the bike. It’ll be part of his physical therapy sessions at school right away.