Learning to ride a bike is a rite of passage for most youth; a transition from backyard play to independence and neighborhood exploration. What about individuals with special needs who may require additional, differentiated instruction? Heidi Ferraro, a local advocate and mother of a son with special needs, is committed to helping special needs individuals participate in inclusive fitness activities. She started searching the Internet for opportunities that would help special needs individuals learn how to ride a bike without training wheels. After speaking with others in the special needs community and doing her own research, she ultimately found one: iCan Bike Camp, which is a week-long day camp program dedicated to teaching individuals with varying special needs ages eight and up how to successfully ride a bike.
“I realized I must find a way to bring this camp to the Tampa Bay area so more local children can learn and experience the joy of riding a bike,” shared Heidi. She began making calls, asking organizations to host the camp. Though many organizations were receptive to the idea, she couldn’t get anyone to actually commit to hosting the event. “Then, one morning, Bike/Walk Tampa came up on my Facebook news feed. I knew intuitively in that moment they would host the camp.” After speaking with Julie Bond, program director for Bike/Walk Tampa Bay (BWTB), Heidi was invited to attend the next board meeting to present her proposal for holding a camp in the Tampa Bay area. After listening to Heidi, BWTB board members unanimously voted to host the camp. Rob Zimprich, BWTB Vice Chair and CFO of the University Area CDC, agreed to provide their facility for the week-long camp.
“I love how the community has come together in various capacities to help make this amazing event possible!” exclaimed Heidi. “Local businesses, non-profits, volunteers, and other organizations have all unified to help with this life-changing endeavor. It’s wonderful to see people from various backgrounds come together for a unified cause.”
BWTB awarded Heidi the Advocate of the Year award for Hillsborough County at the June 2019 Summit for her heroic efforts in bringing iCan Bike to our region.
If you would like to help support iCan Bike Tampa Bay, BWTB needs volunteers to help make the event run smoothly and safely, please contact Brentin Mosher.