Cool KATS Cyclery – Special Olympics
This past Saturday I was invited to help the Cool Cats Kids Cycling team raise awareness for their program at the Colorado Springs Events Center. The program was sponsored by the Colorado Springs Ladies Roller Derby organization PPDD (Pikes Peak Derby Dames). These gals skate on a flat track. Skating lanes are actually taped off on the gym floor from which these ladies begin their bumping, checking, hard hitting, fast action high scoring game.
All of the KATS kids had front row seats and from the smiles on their little faces they were definitely enjoying themselves. At half-time all the kids were allowed to ride their Specialty built bikes out on the course and around the arena. These wonderful kids smiled and laughed as they rode their bikes and were met with cheers and standing ovations from the audience. They had a great time! Prior to the ride, coach Ashley took the mike and announced that 3 organizations had donated $2700 for the purchase of 2 more Specialty built bicycles for their organization: McDonald Paving, Encore Electric and 4kidzsports.
Coach “Ashley” explained what prompted her to develop this program. “It was created from a snowball effect of disappointment. My daughter Avalee was born with Cerebral Palsy and Autism. Exercise and stretching is an important part of her routine. My dad, who works with Special Needs adults in South Dakota, encouraged me to start the program. He developed “West River Powerlifters” where he coached one of his athletes to the Special Olympics World Cup in 2019. It has been incredible to watch what he created.”
“A few years ago my daughter became of ‘competing age’. My goal for her was to be a part of that community. However, when I asked about getting her involved my only option was an all-adult special needs team. I wanted her to have fun with kids her own age. My reaction – if a young athletes team is not available then let’s create one.”
“I found a schedule of sports for the upcoming season and saw bowling. Avalee and I discussed a team name and colors for their t-shirts, it was a fun process for us to do together. Her favorite animal is a cat so I chose to make that into an acronym of “Children of All Types Succeeding”. I reached out to fellow special needs moms within my community and started bowling practice. We are now in our 2nd season and have grown from 9 kids to 26. The experience is overwhelming.”
“My daughter loves to ride her adaptive bike. So when bowling season ended we embarked on a new endeavor. Once again, after checking the rules and regulations for cycling with Special Olympics, I was met with disappointment. So once again I reached out to friends within the community to help develop a “Junior Adaptive Cycling Team”. In August our team was the very first to compete in the State Summer Games!”
I would encourage anyone who needs to smile come watch these kids in action. Their faces light up when they join each other, “to see the parents beam with pride, their children gain confidence, awareness and independence, continues to leave me speechless,” stated Ashley. “I am just a special needs mom myself, but when I see moms with tears of joy as they watch their kids peddle their bikes for the very first time – independently, I am moved. Caring for a Special Needs child is exhausting. The unspoken mutual respect I have for these parents is incredible; we’ve all cried many tears of despair. Now we celebrate accomplishments we thought would never come. The special needs community and the Cool CATS family are much bigger than I can put into words.
If you wish to help buy more bicycles for these kids please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or hit the DONATE on this website. Any donation of $25 or more will earn you a gift worth far more than your donation – a FREE iBennie Mobile Savings app. however, just the fact you are helping purchase more bicycles for these kids will warm your hear. Thank You.