Amanda Lawrence, 6 1/2, of Lawrence, Mass., rides on a new Amtryke Therapeutic Tricycle that was donated to the Northeast Rehabilitation Hospital. The bikes are hand-and-foot powered and improves motor coordination. It also allows children the opportunity to experience fun and independence of riding a bicycle with their siblings and friends.

SALEM — Amanda Lawrence is a 6 1/2-year-old triplet who can’t ride bikes with her brother and sister.

The Lawrence, Mass. first-grader has cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that effects muscle movement and makes it nearly impossible for her to ride a bike.

But last week, she managed to pedal down a hallway on a tricycle.

Amanda was selected as one of 12 pediatric patients from Northeast Rehabilitation to test out a tricycle, new to the region, designed specifically for children who lack full mobility skills.

Her mother, Heather Lawrence, was caught between giggles and tears as she watched a pediatric therapist help her daughter get onto the bike.

“It would be a dream come true for her to ride a bike with her siblings,” Lawrence said.

The bikes are expensive — $400 to $600 — but Amanda is one of five pediatric patients from the area who has a chance to get one for free in a raffle.

Northeast Rehabilitation has teamed up with Ambucs, an 85-year-old nonprofit organization that specializes in donating these therapeutic bikes to children in need.

Ambucs already serves 22 states, and fundraises year-round to provide the specialty bikes, called Amtrykes, to children in need.

Ambucs Representative Joe Copeland said the company has a wishlist of children at all the region’s hospitals who need the bikes, based on their disability, cognitive skills and socioeconomic background.

He said the bikes can add miles of progress to a child’s physical therapy routine. “These are not funded through insurance, but they’re just as necessary for health,” he said.

Copeland said the bikes were originally created for children with cerebral palsy, but they’re proven useful for several other disabilities including spina bifida and Down syndrome, and even behavioral problems. The bikes are made to last several years and can expand or shrink up to six inches in length.

Last week, five pediatric therapists began to fit children to the bicycles in a therapy room at the Salem hospital. The bikes are all bright red, blue and silver, but they differ in shape. Some are small and long, others are tall and short. Some have foot straps and others have head rests.

Copeland said there is a bike to fit almost every child’s needs.

And for Amanda, the first bike was a perfect fit.

With a red helmet on her head, Amanda shut her eyes and grimaced as she pedaled her way across the room. She didn’t stop at the door, and with a wide grin, opened her eyes, picked up a little speed and traveled down the hallway of Northeast Rehabilitation — therapists monitoring her every pedal stroke.

Heather Lawrence said this is only the second time her daughter has ridden a bike. The first time she tried a speciality bike was in Rhode Island.

“They were just so expensive, “ said Lawrence. “It’s money well spent, but it’s money that we don’t have.”

Northeast Rehabilitation could come to her rescue. Even if Amanda doesn’t get one of the raffled-off bikes, her name can be added to a wishlist, and chances are the company will set her up with a bike by the end of next year.

Amanda had an exasperated look on her face when she finished her trial run, but she was smiling. She didn’t need to say what came out of her mouth next, because everyone in the room anticipated it.

“I want it now,” she said leaning over the handle bars with a giant smile.

Amanda goes to physical therapy three times a week at the hospital, but she said the bike ride didn’t feel like hard work like her therapy does.

Her therapists and mother were smiling thought, because they know that riding a bike will strengthen her muscles.

“To her this wouldn’t be like doing therapy, it’s fun,” her mother said. “So that’s what her goal is, and my goal is different but they both get done.”

For more information about the bikes, or how to make a donation to the company, visit

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