Getting a new bike is a red-letter day for any child. But Saturday was especially significant for 6-year-old Azeb Tenges.
Cerebral palsy made it difficult for her to pedal a tricycle. So two groups partnered to buy and build a custom bike that allows her to ride like other children.
Azeb took the first spin on her new bike in a garage of the West Sixth Brewery complex where a local roller derby team trains.
She was all smiles as she rode round and round.
“She’s never been able to do this with her brother and her sister,” said her father, Ryan Tenges. “It’s just an unbelievable feeling for her. We’re excited as a whole family.”
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Tenges and his wife, Brianna, adopted Azeb from Ethiopia. The Lexington couple has two other children, Hazel, 4, and Shepherd, 2.
The three-wheeled bike, called an AmTryke, was purchased through money raised by the Kiwanis Club of Lexington. The bike is one of 40 given away in Central Kentucky since 2015 by another organization called the Bluegrass Chapter of National AMBUCS.
AMBUCS started as American Business Clubs, but in the 1960s, it became a charitable organization that seeks to give more mobility and independence to people with disabilities.
The bikes are given to children with muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, Down syndrome or autism, said Kirk Hemmerick, president of the local AMBUCS chapter.
A therapist evaluated Azeb and recommended the bike best suited for her. The Tenges family had known since June that a new bike would be on the way. Azeb, a first grader at Liberty Elementary, could hardly wait.
“Almost every day she would ask, ‘Is my bike going to be here soon?’” Brianna Tenges said.
Azeb’s disassembled bike was shipped to Lexington, and volunteers put it together at Broke Spoke, a nonprofit community bike shop in the West Sixth complex that provided the space and tools for assembly.
The bike has rear steering that allows an adult to push and steer from behind. The bike’s frame and handlebars can be adjusted to accommodate Azeb as she grows.
“She definitely wants more independence,” Ryan Tenges said. “Now we just need to work on steering and she’ll be good to go.”