- by Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor
For SM&P attorney Melody Swilling, working with those less fortunate has been a lifestyle. More than five years ago, a friend introduced Melody to the iCan Shine organization. The charity’s iCan Bike program was a perfect fit for her.
iCan Shine teams up with local organizations and individual program “hosts” to conduct over 100 ‘iCan’ programs in 35 States and Canada, serving nearly 3,000 people with disabilities each year. Since 2007, the organization has taught approximately 20,000 people with disabilities to ride a conventional bicycle. The vast majority of people with disabilities never experience this, Melody explained, including more than 80% of people with Autism and 90% of people with Down syndrome.
“I am a triathlete and love the bike portion of my competition,” said Melody, “so helping children with disabilities ride a bike for the first time was love at first sight.”
Around 80% of the people who participate in the iCan Bike program ride a bicycle at least 75 feet unassisted by the end of the five-day program! The remaining 20% make tremendous progress towards this goal and leave the program accompanied by family members trained as “spotters” to pick up at home where iCan Bike left off!
“It is a huge joy helping them and working alongside the Alpharetta PD officers, other community leaders, or local high schoolers,” the Texas native said. “Seeing the joy in the children’s faces when they are peddling by themselves -- you can’t beat that.“
For more information about iCan Shine, visit www.icanshine.org.