Jason Stach, of Ortonville, walks behind his daughter Remi Stach, 7, after she received her specialized bike, June 24, at BeaumontÕs Health & Wellness Center in Royal Oak. Photo by Steve Perez
By Susan Bromley
Ortonville- Learning to ride a bicycle is often seen as a rite of passage in childhood, but it isn’t easy for all.
Raemi Stach, a 7-year-old who will enter first grade at Harvey Swanson Elementary this fall, reached the milestone with the help of Beaumont Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Miracle Network.
On June 24, during Beaumont Children’s “Bike Day,” Raemi, who was born with several medical issues including visual and cognitive impairment, received a bicycle customized just for her.
“She is so excited— she just keeps saying, ‘Mama, new bike, my new bike,’” said Lisa Stach, Raemi’s mom. “She rode it all day Monday… It’s one more thing she gets to do that makes her like everyone else.”
Raemi has extremely limited vision, with some ability to differentiate contrast between light and dark. Her mother describes this vision as what a person with normal sight sees when looking into a steamed mirror.
Due to her numerous medical issues at birth, doctors were unsure if Raemi would ever walk or even crawl. Through physical therapy, Raemi is now able to walk with a cane and receiving this bicycle will assist further in her mobility, helping with core strength, leg strength and coordination.
Lisa Stach is grateful to have learned about “Bike Day,” which began 13 years ago and through which Beaumont and Children’s Miracle Network have gifted more than 800 customized bicycles to children with special needs.
This year, Raemi was one of 132 children who received a bike.
“These unique bikes help each child. The physical benefits include building endurance and muscle strength and improving disassociation of both upper and lower extremities,” said Wendy Nicholls, coordinator of Bike Day. “Psychosocial benefits include participating in an age-appropriate, skill activity with their peers as well as being included in a great family activity.”
Lisa is excited to see her child reach a milestone she wasn’t sure would ever happen. In preschool, she tried to put her daughter on a tricycle as Raemi’s friends zoomed around and she couldn’t pedal. That is a problem no longer. As Lisa was talking to a therapist the day Raemi was fitted for her bike, she looked over to see her daughter had taken off on her new bike and was 20 feet down the hallway.
“We didn’t know she could move on the bike, let alone move that fast,” laughs Lisa. “It was a lot of fun that day. She is so movement and motion-inclined— jumping, stomping, she loves her swing, but this is another movement or sensation that she can obtain. This is one way to get sensory stimulus in a way that everyone else gets it, too. It’s awesome.”