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Most people receiving rehabilitative services normally aren’t ecstatic when required to go to treatment. It can be a long, sometimes painful undertaking.

Now add in a more than 20-minute drive to a care provider, and that inevitably takes a bit of a toll on a person over time.

But don’t tell that to 7-year-old Abbie Praught, who receives weekly treatment at Columbus’ Wiggles and Giggles Therapy for Kids. The Rising City native was born with Down syndrome and overcame a leukemia diagnosis at age 2. Abbie, who is preparing for second grade in the fall, has been in remission for five years.

Overcoming obstacles is nothing new for the child, and she loves conquering new challenges at Wiggles & Giggles.

“She loves it, she counts down the days every week for when she gets to go,” said Melissa Praught, Abbie’s mother. “And Thursdays are her day to go, and she announces it to everybody at school.”

Now, a three-tiered partnership between Wiggles & Giggles Therapy for Kids, Columbus Community Hospital and Bikes & Trykes of Central Nebraska is allowing for Abbie to not only receive excellent care but also get her hands on a brand-new AmTryke. Recently, Abbie and several other children were fitted for their own customized AmTrykes inside of the Columbus Wellness Center. The equipment is designed to allow them to more fully participate in health and wellness activities.

AmTryke provides adaptive bicycles, tricycles and accessories for individuals of all ages and abilities who are unable to operate a traditional bicycle, according to information from the company’s website. This year, seven AmTrykes are being distributed to children in the greater Columbus area at zero expense to their families. Funds for the customized rides are once again being raised through CCH’s annual ‘We can Run, Walk & Roll’ event being held in September.

The goal is for recipients of the AmTrykes to participate in the 5K and 1-mile race intended for everyone – from beginners to competitive joggers, runners, walkers and individuals who use wheelchairs, according to information provided by the hospital.

The adjustments and modifications tailor-made for recipients with each AmTryke enables them to not only have fun with their new ride but to also develop more strength throughout their bodies.

"A lot of individuals who receive them, obviously, can’t ride a traditional bike,” said Therese Chase, Abbie’s pediatric physical therapist at Wiggles & Giggles. “So we are looking at cardiovascular benefits, strength benefits, endurance, and really being able to keep up with their peers and family members.”

Since the inception of ‘We Can Run, Walk & Roll’ in 2011, more than 45 AmTrykes have been purchased and provided to area youth. With the average AmTryke costing anywhere between $600 and $1,600, this has tremendously lessened the burden for families looking for a way to assist a loved one.

“I definitely can’t afford a $1,600 bike,” Melissa Praught said. “… And this is great because it will help strengthen her legs and her core muscles. She tends to walk a little bow-legged and this will help to maybe bring her stance in some.”

Melissa said that she and her husband, Joseph Praught, learned about the AmTryke opportunity shortly after enrolling Abbie at Wiggles & Giggles about three months ago.

“When we started they were just starting to get together the names for today,” she said of children receiving AmTrykes. “… And she has very much been looking forward to this.”

Chase said that Abbie has been a real pleasure to work with. She said that the child is extremely vibrant and fully willing to participate in the rehabilitation process.

“Abbie is super sweet and spunky – just full of energy,” Chase said of her patient. “And she does really well, we have been working a lot on strengthening and narrowing her base of support, and also a lot of endurance (activities) after (her cancer). So we are really just trying to get her back to her prior function, as far as her leukemia goes, and just strengthening in general.”

Chase added that each child patient she sees is a completely new undertaking and that she has to figure out how to connect and work with each one individually.

“You just really have to come to their level and know their wants and needs, their likes and dislikes, and try not to set off any triggers, and stuff like that,” Chase said. “And then maybe you can reach them as far as their physical needs go.”

After being fitted for her AmTryke, Abbie made her way out of the Wellness Center with her parents. She wasn’t too happy about having to leave the AmTryke prototype she’d been riding.

“She was really thinking that she would get to take it home with her today,” Melissa said, with a laugh. “But she will have it pretty soon.”

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net.

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