- Associated Press - Saturday, July 19, 2014

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) - The wind rushed against Caroline Pulliam’s face and she squealed in excitement.

The 11-year-old, who normally gets around in a wheelchair, was moving down Greenville’s Swamp Rabbit Trail in the front seat of an 85-pound tandem tricycle.

Her feeding tube was duct taped to the handle bars and her mother, Donna, was behind her pedaling and steering the three-wheeled vehicle.

Caroline put her hands in the air and pretended she was flying.

The Pulliam family, of Spartanburg, consists of avid cyclists. Donna and her husband, Norman, ride together frequently. Their 8-year-old son, Andy, rides his bicycle often as well.

But they were having a tough time finding a way to include Caroline in those activities.

“When my daughter was smaller we could hitch one of those buggies on the back, but she’s too big for that now,” Donna Pulliam said. “We just haven’t had the opportunity to go as a full family.”

Then they learned about tricycles that were available for rent at TTR Bikes in Greenville near the 17.5-mile Greenville Health System Swamp Rabbit Trail.

“It looked like the bike was just what we needed,” Donna Pulliam said.

After an 8-mile ride on the trail together as a family, she realized it was.

“To have the opportunity to do a normal family activity was awesome,” she said during a phone interview. “It was really emotional, exciting. She (Caroline) squealed the full 8 miles. She had the wind in her face, she felt freedom from a bike ride that most people would take for granted. It was fantastic.”

As of July 15, the Pulliams will no longer have to travel to Greenville to enjoy cycling as a family.

The Mary Black Foundation awarded Partners for Active Living $13,225 to purchase tricycles and they will be available for the public to rent at the Thomas E. Hannah YMCA on July 15.

“We are really excited,” said Partners for Active living Executive Director Laura Ringo. “This will give more families the opportunity to be active in Spartanburg.”

The tricycles cost $6,500 each and are made by the Canadian company Freedom Concepts. They are black and designed to seat two people. The bike and handlebars are completely adjustable, and the front pedals have Velcro straps and a guide rope that keeps the foot platform level, since many children have problems with their feet dropping when trying to pedal a traditional bike.

“Safety is always the Y’s top priority,” said Cassie Lloyd, marketing and communication director for the YMCA of Greater Spartanburg. “Our staff will be trained to remind people to wear their helmets and abide by all traffic laws, which will result in an extra measure of safety for participants in the program.”

She added that the YMCA is excited to work with Partners for Active Living to make the tricycles available for the community.

“Being a partner in this initiative makes sense for several reasons,” Lloyd said. “The Y has direct access to the Mary Black Foundation Rail Trail. We have a brand new facility with room to house the bikes. Plus, we’re open seven days a week. This partnership, in so many ways, is a perfect fit with our mission and commitment to providing access to healthy living for everyone in the community.”

Stephen Houston, an avid mountain biker from Greenville, was responsible for getting the tricycles to Greenville. His sister, Heather, has epilepsy and he started the Heather’s Ride Program, which aims to offer those with special needs the ability to participate in the thrill of riding a bike.

Donna Pulliam is looking forward to being able to enjoy cycling as a family, closer to home.

“I couldn’t be more tickled,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a great thing for a lot of families in this area. They will be well-used and provide a lot of good fun.”


Information from: Herald-Journal, https://www.goupstate.com/

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