Remarkable riders: AU teaches confidence, shares joy through bike lessons

Remarkable riders: AU teaches confidence, shares joy through bike lessons
Published: Jul. 15, 2016 at 8:12 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 2, 2017 at 2:10 PM EST
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AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - An event out on the Auburn University is shining some light on the world; kids and teens with disabilities are learning a skill that's leading them on a path to remarkable confidence and joy.

Just four days ago, 40 East Alabama kids and teens did not know how to ride a bike, now there's no stopping them.

"I love it, because it's amazing," said new bike rider Titus Waugh.

Emily Waugh describes seeing her son, Titus, ride for the first time.

"It just makes him feel so good about himself. I am just filled with thankfulness and gratefulness for these people pouring themselves into my son and to see him doing something I never thought he could do is just amazing," Emily said.

"It's about independence, self-confidence it's about physical activity, we know kid with disabilities are at a higher risk for obesity," said AU associate kinesiology professor Melissa Pangelinian.

Pangelinian spearheaded the effort to bring the program called  "I Can Shine, I Can Bike" to AU.  It's the first time this adaptive sports camp has visited the state of Alabama. The three-week camp will teach 80 campers not only how to learn to ride a bike, but also swim.

Sponsors like East Alabama Medical Center and Auburn University make it possible for any child to participate.

"It's really cool to ride a bike, because you can go really fast, it's faster than walking and you can do it with your friends too! I most of all want to thank Jesse, for being my partner here, she cheered me on and I am just so proud," said Isaac Baum, a new bike rider.

Pangelinian and her team's dedication to these kids makes your heart smile and your eyes a little misty.

"We are just so proud of them, we have seen parents breaking down, just like I am now for them go to from not being able to ride to riding on two wheels in just 75 minute sessions in 5 days is just incredible and the confidence and the ability to be with their peers and feel like they belong and the smiles. I am just so happy for them," said Pangelinian.

Next week, 40 "I Can Shine" campers will learn how to swim at Auburn University. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to be involved,  so campers continue their biking and swimming adventures with families and friends at home.

Well done campers and well done Melissa Pangelinian and her team!

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