This is where AMBUCS comes in. AMBUCS is a national nonprofit “dedicated to creating mobility and independence for people with disabilities,” according to its website.
Most of the work nationally and locally involves helping families obtain Amtryke therapeutic tricycles. And that’s why Howard Livingston and Bruce Schmoyer visited Schreiber Monday morning.
Howard and Bruce are two longtime Lancaster AMBUCS volunteers, and they stopped in to assemble a new bike for Elizabeth Owens and her son, Dorian. They live in New Holland.
Dorian was born with hydrocephalus. While he was still in utero, fluid developed inside his skull. The resulting pressure caused brain damage that left Dorian with ataxic cerebral palsy, seizure disorder and deafness.
He has been coming to Schreiber since he was 2; he’s 16 now. He receives all three therapies here, including physical therapy with Laurie Panther.
She said if a child can propel the bike on their own or if riding helps him or her with their endurance or strength, they are a candidate to receive one of the bikes.
Laurie surprised Dorian with the bike that Howard and Bruce had just finished putting together. His eyes lit up when he saw it.
“This is a big deal for him,” his mom said as Dorian wheeled his new bike through Schreiber’s hallways. “It’s good for his coordination and his core muscle strength. And the biggest thing is the feeling of independence. This will be his bike for him to ride on his own at home.”
Laurie knew Dorian would be excited.
“We ride the bike we have every week here,” she said. “He asks to ride it. It’s his favorite thing to do. Being able to surprise him with it today was pretty cool.”
AMBUCS pays for them. A family or an organization such as Schreiber will put in the request. AMBUCS reviews the request and, if approved, orders the bike from Amtryke.
“We were (buying) about two or three a year up until about a year ago,” Howard said. “The local group decided we needed to ramp it up. We said we could do better. We bought 12 bikes just through our chapter in the past year.”
AMBUCS funds its local bike buying program primarily through an annual art auction, Howard said.
This was the fourth time Laurie has arranged for a family to receive one of the bikes, she said. It doesn’t get old.
“This was a huge deal for me today,” she said. “Most kids like riding a bike. This gives them the ability to ride just like their friends or their brothers and sisters. We’ve had kids go on bike rides with their family for the first time instead of being pulled in a trailer.”
Mom is probably already planning that first family ride with Dorian.