When Izabella Edds first rode a bike, she told her grandmother that she felt like a star.
For most children, riding a bike is relatively unremarkable. But for 5-year-old Izabella — who suffers from spinal bifida, which heavily restricts her ability to move her legs — it was a moment she never expected.
Adapted bicycles for special needs children typically run into the thousands of dollars and Edds’ grandmother had told little Izzie that the purchase was out of reach.
"She was just in disbelief,” said grandmother Julie Bippus. "When she got the bike, she was just ecstatic. Her face just lit up."
The bike was specifically outfitted for severely disabled children, like Izabella. It was a donation from the McLindon Family Foundation, a Baton Rouge-based non-profit that provides adaptive bikes to special needs children.
"The rush that you get when you see a kid get a bike, it’s amazing" said Andrew McLindon, the organization's founder. "They just beam, they can’t believe it."
McLindon buys the bikes — which can have price tags into the thousands of dollars — and gives them away at no cost. There is such high demand from parents across the country that McLindon says the foundation had to set up a waiting list.
One of his most recent completed bikes went to Aiden Andrews, who has cerebral palsy. For his mother Ashley, the bike has been transformative for her son.
"What difference will this make in his quality of life," said Ashley Andrews. "I think this is a step towards his walking and running one day."