Dubuque org helping people with special needs access equipment - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque organization helping people with special needs access equipment

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8-year-old Liam McFadden rides an adaptive tricycle at Eisenhower Elementary School Monday afternoon 8-year-old Liam McFadden rides an adaptive tricycle at Eisenhower Elementary School Monday afternoon
DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

A Dubuque organization is raising money to give people with special needs greater mobility.

Adaptive bikes, walkers and other equipment are expensive, especially if insurance won't help foot the bill.

Sharing could be the answer to this expensive problem, non-profit organization ARK Advocates says. It's a group that serves people with disabilities in the tri-state area.

Aulanda Krause is a special education teacher at Eisenhower Elementary School in Dubuque and also a board member with ARK Advocates.

"We are raising funds to support an adaptive equipment lending library, so families and people with special needs can access much-needed equipment," Krause said.

People such as eight-year-old Liam McFadden and his family could benefit from a lending library.

Monday afternoon, Liam enjoyed recess at Dubuque's Eisenhower Elementary School, where he attends third grade. Liam has special needs and rode around the playground area Monday on an adaptive tricycle, as two peers helped him move and steer it.

His mom, Jennifer McFadden, beamed as she watched Liam smile on the bike.

"There's nothing better than seeing your kid happy," she said.

Liam enjoys the adaptive tricycle, but it belongs to the school and isn't a piece of equipment the family can immediately afford at home.

"We have tried, actually, to get that bike through the waiver program that he's on, and it is not defined as a medical necessity, so we've been denied to have that, and the range of the bike that he needs is between $1,500 and $1,800," McFadden said.

"Rec-leisure equipment, such as adaptive bikes, I've never heard that being paid for by insurance," Krause said.

A lending library would allow families such as Liam's to borrow expensive mobility equipment instead of buying it.

"I think a lot of people take for granted the fact that their child can ride a bike or sit at a dinner table, and some of our students or even adults have difficulty doing those things," Krause said, "so by having this equipment available, maybe a family can participate in an activity they wouldn't normally be able to participate in."

Krause said she hopes the lending library will grow to include more than just mobility equipment.

"Liam doesn't speak either," McFadden said, "so being able to check out communication devices just to have at home so that he can express his needs and wants: it's going to be an amazing thing."

It's a plan to save money through sharing, but ARK Advocates needs to stock up the library before the plan can go into effect. Already, adaptive equipment company Rifton has donated one special bike, and now ARK Advocates is looking to obtain more.

ARK Advocates is holding a fundraiser Saturday, April 21 at the Mystique Community Ice Center in Dubuque, called Roll & Sole-a-thon. The organization hopes to raise enough money through the event to purchase three adaptive bikes for the lending library.

"The average children's bike maybe costs $90, where an adaptive piece of equipment, such as an adaptive bike, might cost anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000," Krause said.

From 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday is a 20-mile endurance bike ride. After that, the celebration kicks off from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., with concessions, appearances from local sports teams and other family activities.

Registration for the bike ride for adults is $20. For kids ages six through 12, it's $10. Kids under five ride for free. For more information, click HERE.

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