Former BYU football star among volunteers teaching people with special needs to ride bikes

Posted at 10:15 PM, Jun 11, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-12 00:19:43-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- For a lot of individuals with special needs, it is hard to develop independence or those around them may underestimate their capabilities because of their disability.

One Utah family was inspired by their sons love of mountain biking to find a way for him to learn to ride.

"My son Elijah was the manager of the Corner Canyon mountain bike team; he just handed out numbers," event organizer Steven Palmer said. "The executive director of the Utah Mountain Biking Association challenged us to have him ride with the team next year. She was very insistent, so finally we were like 'OK, we will try to do something' and so we looked at adaptive bikes and then we found this group online called 'I Can'."

Through this group, 39 individuals with special needs ages seven to 35 are learning to ride a two-wheel bike through adaptive bicycles and a specialized instructional program.

For some Utah families, this program makes a world of difference.

"[Nicole] loves to ride UTA and go where she wants to go, but she is limited where the buses go," mother Cindy Nigbur said about her daughter with Down syndrome.

Now, with the help of former BYU running back Luke Staley, Nicole can ride a two wheeled bicycle.

"I learned with Luke," 19-year-old Nicole Nigbur said. "He is the best team member with me, and I like riding here, riding the bike. My favorite kind in the whole wide world is ride UTA and ride the bike."

"Amazing to think that in one week they did what we have never been able to do," Cindy Nigbur said.

But, the participants are not the only ones profiting from this experience.

"I just told a guy that I haven't run in ten years and I will be hurting later, but it's definitely worth it," former BYU running back Luke Staley said. "A lot of us take it for granted. To see these kids and to see the joy that they get out of it.... it means a lot."

To learn more about the efforts to teach kids with special needs how to ride bikes, click here.