Special Olympic athletes in Lincoln are now training for the City’s first Strider Cup Race from
9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, June 11 in the Railyard. Most of the 23 athletes who are learning to ride Strider Bikes are on the Lincoln Shooting Stars, a Special Olympics Nebraska team sponsored by the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department’s Easterday Recreation Center.
Strider Sports International donated 30 of the no-pedal balance bikes to Special Olympics Nebraska, with 22 designated for Easterday. In addition to the 12-inch model for younger riders, the company has in recent years developed 16-inch and 20-inch models for older children and adults with balance and coordination challenges. A 2015 research study confirmed that riding a Strider Bike improved stability scores of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Three Strider Cup training sessions have already been held in Lincoln, and two more are planned.
“The training program is a wonderful opportunity for children and adults to overcome anxieties about riding bikes in a fun setting with peers,” said Kerry Zingg, Easterday Center Director. “It was so exciting to see such joy and enthusiasm from the youth who participated in our first week of training. We look forward to seeing the youth develop confidence in their abilities in the weeks to come.” Zingg said the athletes range in age from three to 16 years old.
The bikes were assembled by Scott Anderson, a Special Olympics athlete and part-time employee at Special Olympics Nebraska; parents of those in the Young Athletes Program; and Lincoln Parks and Recreation volunteers. Parks and Recreation Carpentry Maintenance staff built two rumble bars and a bike ramp for the Strider Bike Program.
Special Olympics Nebraska CEO Carolyn Chamberlin said the agency is excited about the new partnership with Strider Bikes. “Many of our athletes who previously could not ride a bicycle are excelling on the Strider Bike, and it means so much to see them experience the thrill of riding like their typically-abled peers,” she said.
“My son Matt struggled to learn how to ride a traditional bicycle, but excelled on his Strider Bike,” said Alisa Hoffman, mother of Special Olympics Nebraska athlete Matt, 15. “He finally learned how to balance while riding and has since become more independent in his play.”
The Special Olympic athletes will compete in the Special Needs Races during the Strider Cup, presented by Raising Canes Chicken Fingers® franchise in Lincoln. Strider Cup attendees will receive free admission to the Strider Adventure Zone, where riders can test ride all three sizes of Strider Bikes. Helmets will be provided. The event is the first of three national Strider Cup Races. Participants in the Lincoln event as well as those competing in Salt Lake City, Utah and Spokane, Washington can qualify for the Strider World Championship presented by FedEx in July in San Francisco.
This is the second year the series has included Special Needs Races for athletes of all ages and abilities. Strider has waived the registration fee for athletes in these races. Strider works with Special Olympics teams in each race city, but the races are open to any Strider Rider with special needs. To register, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.