In a recent Duke’s Den column penned by MO E-i-C Kevin Duke, he expresses his opinion about the declining number of kids interested in motorcycling. One suggestion Duke offers is to get more and more children back on bicycles. With the Strider bike, many kids have learned to transition from Striders to conventional bicycles with pedals without the need for training wheels.

Beyond being the leading manufacturer of balance bikes (bicycles without pedals), the Strider line includes models for younger riders, as well as the 16-inch and 20-inch models, “developed specifically for individuals with special needs, such as Down Syndrome, autism or cerebral palsy.”

In 2014, Strider donated a total of over $300,000 through the Rider Fund, of which over 75% went to individuals with special needs. Strider expects to donate over $400,000 to non-profit organizations through 2015, and is earmarking $200,000 to the Special Needs community. Strider works with Special Olympics Young Athletes Program and is partnering with the 2015 National Down Syndrome Society Buddy Walks.

New this year at the 2nd Annual STRIDER Championship Series events are race classes for athletes with special needs. Strider is working with special needs organizations in each race region to give over ten bikes to individuals with special needs in advance of each race.

With most new racers not having experience on a two-wheeled bike, Strider has a special, weekly training plan for the individuals to be ready—and excited—for the starting line. Riders will practice starting gates, riding side- by-side, ramps, passing, and other obstacles typical in a racing environment. They’ll also practice podium fist- pumps, since all athletes are treated to an Olympic-style podium award ceremony after their race.

Four national races will be held in Bradenton, Fla. (April 25), Ventura, Calif. (May 9), Pittsburgh, Penn. (June 6) and Salt Lake City, Utah (August 8). The race categories are; 8 and under on 12” Strider bikes; 8 years and under on 16” Strider bikes; 9 years and up on 16” Strider bikes; 9 years and up on 20” Strider bikes.

The family-friendly Championship Series event includes the Strider Adventure Zone with fun activities and demo rides. To encourage athletes to participate in the event, Strider has offered to waive the registration fee for the Special Needs race. Each athlete will receive a Strider goodie bag. Register at Championship Series. Participants qualify for the Strider World Championship, August 28-29 in Rapid City, S.D. Watch the inspiring video of the exhibition race for special needs last year on Strider’s Special Needs page.