Riding a bike making boy stronger - New York News

Riding a bike making boy stronger

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Jackson Zech (Credit: WJBK | myFOX Detroit) Jackson Zech (Credit: WJBK | myFOX Detroit)

Riding a bike is a normal rite of passage for most children, but for kids with special needs, it's a dream come true.

Two and a half-year-old Jackson Zech has some catching up to do, and he's well on his way.

"I spent a week in the hospital before he was born and not knowing what was gonna happen. It was horrible, and, of course, you can't help but think of the worst," said Jill Zech.

In 2007, he was due in December, but suddenly arrived in August, four months early and weighing just over a pound.

"His skin was transparent. You could see through him. His ears weren't formed. His eyes weren't open. They were still sealed shut," Zech said.

Just as surprising as his premature arrival is Jackson's determination and progress. He struggles with weakness, cognitive impairment, vision problems and balance issues. Yet, he amazes his physical therapist at the Beaumont medical center.

An integral and favorite part of his therapy is riding a customized bike. Pushing the pedals is making Jackson a stronger walker.

"In Jackson's case, we were working a lot on walking. So, in a lot of cases... the kids don't have the strength or their coordination piece to walk," said physical therapist Holly Timmreck. The bike allows them that dissociation of their legs, so their legs can be separated and do a reciprocal movement similar to walking."

Beyond the therapeutic value, simply riding a bike creates a sense of pride, independence and normalcy.

"It's a big deal to us because it's a way to get him... playing outside, in a manner that we may not be able to if we didn't have a therapy bike," said Zech. "They have the special straps, so he's able to be safe on a bike. We can assist him with it, and he can just have fun like a normal kid would."

Bike Day at Beaumont is all about helping children with special needs ride bikes. Partially funded by the Children's Miracle Network, customized bikes worth thousands of dollars are given to children who otherwise would never know the feeling of cruising down the sidewalk on wheels. Soon Jackson will get his own customized bike to take home.

Jill has high hopes for Jackson, who's now a big brother, even though she knows life will never be easy for him.

"I deal with it... with my younger son, too. It's hard to watch him. Things come so easily for him, and nothing comes easy for Jackson, but he's such a great kid, and he has a great personality. He loves to laugh, so we just love him the way that he is," Zech said.

FOX 2 is proud to have partnered with Gardener-White Furniture and Children's Miracle Network Beaumont Hospital to help make this dream a reality. If you would like to contribute, click here for more information.

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