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Pedaling for joy

By Heidi Swift, special to The Oregonian
August 08, 2009

I can’t remember what I was asking Ann Donaca Sullivan when she interrupts me in the middle of an interview question. I can’t remember — because it isn’t important.

“I’m sorry,” she explains as she begins to bolt across the gymnasium floor at Concordia University, “Kate is going to try a real bike — oh, my God, this is huge!”

A sense of urgency is in her voice as she tucks her clipboard under one arm and begins clapping. An army of volunteers follows suit, shouting, “Go, Kate! You got it! Go!”

Kate Eames goes. She is a tiny girl on an equally tiny bike, and one of her three dedicated volunteers has just let go of the handle on the back of her seat. At age 10, she’s riding. On her own. For the first time ever. The gym erupts in cheers; Kate’s autism is momentarily forgotten as her face translates a subconscious acknowledgment of imminent adventure and freedom.

She can pedal a bike.

I’m too stunned to even put my camera to my face to make a photo. Instead I stand perfectly still with my hand over my mouth.

“You must be Kate’s mother,” a woman in a volunteer T-shirt says. It’s only then that I realize I am crying. And while I fumble to explain that, no, actually I am not Kate’s mother (just a sappy cyclist with a soft heart), I realize that every question I could have ever asked Ann Donaca Sullivan has just been answered.

I now understand exactly what this program, Bike First, is all about.

View the original article here

ABI’s Bike First cyclists take summer for a spin during Bike Week 2015

It was a week of triumph and achievement for the 52 aspiring cyclists enrolled in NWDSA: Bike First! and Quick Start! / Refresher Clinics. For the tenth year running, NWDSA’s Bike First! week-long clinic brought smiles to the faces of the riders, volunteers, parents and guardians alike. Cyclists of all ages and abilities made excellent progress developing the skills needed to ride typical two-wheeler bicycles.

The spirit of the community and inclusion rang loudly throughout the week as 45 outstanding volunteers contributed their time, energy, and compassion.

Thank you to Original Joes and Boomers BBQ for lunch each day (they’ve been with us for ten years!), Concordia University for donating the use of the gymnasium (eight years!), Multnomah Athletic Foundation (eight years!) and Safe Routes to Schools (seven years!).

Read more about 2015 Bike Week at

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