Teen with cerebral palsy making 250-mile bike trip

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) - A teenager with a form of cerebral palsy plans will make a 250-mile round trip bike ride across western Michigan this week after getting the gift of a new set of wheels.

Chris Brandt, 14, outgrew a modified tricycle that he used more than a decade ago, the Kalamazoo Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/1qEfFUq ). On Tuesday, the teen from the Van Buren County village of Lawton plans to ride with a group of kids and adults from his church.

“I feel a lot more confident than the days before because I thought I wasn’t going to be able to ride a bike, but I can now,” Chris said.

“I’m excited, but a little bit anxious.”

Watermark for Kids, an organization that helps under-served children, awarded Chris a specially designed $1,055 bike that he can pedal that attaches to a regular or tandem bike. It also covered the $180 price of the trip and threw in $200 in gift cards to buy gear.

“This is wonderful,” said Gary Brandt, his father. “This is great, because other kids can do stuff and he can’t, a lot of times. This gives him that ability.”

Chris has been spending the past few weeks practicing four times a week for the trip that calls for about 50 to 60 miles a day. The 250-mile ride, dubbed “The Bike Trip,” has been held each summer for 30 years, said Jeff Merasco, co-director of the trip.

The group will leave from Southridge Reformed Church and head to the Grand Rapids area for the night before going to Muskegon State Park, taking a day off to visit Michigan’s Adventure. From there, they’ll travel from Muskegon to Holland, from Holland to South Haven and arrive back at the church on Sunday.

“To have Chris involved is just a wonderful opportunity for the students and the other adults,” Merasco said.

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Information from: Kalamazoo Gazette, http://www.mlive.com/kalamazoo

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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