Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office raising money for teen’s first bike ride

15-year-old Zachary (Courtesy of Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office)

VIRGINIA BEACH — The Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office is trying to make more than a Christmas wish come true; for 15-year-old Zachary, it will be a life-altering.

Zachary, or “Z” for short, is a local Virginia Beach boy who loves to be outside. Limitations associated with Down syndrome and non-verbal autism have made it difficult for Z to ride a bike, but adaptive bicycles have made it possible for all ages and abilities to enjoy the pastime.

This Christmas, the sheriff’s office has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for a Team Dual Trike, a bike designed for a rider who needs assistance to enjoy their ride. The fundraiser goal is to reach the $2,000 mark to cover the cost of the bike, two helmets, and the shipping.

“We want the bike to be a complete surprise for Z,” Deputy Ashley Swenson, who organized the “Ride with Z” fundraiser, said. Swenson also said that Z is going to be thrilled when he sees it.

Having known Zachary’s mom for five years, Swenson said the family has many trails in their neighborhood.

“She is excited to be able to take him on the trails with the bike.”

Disabled Sports USA says that cycling is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and socialize while also “improving strength, balance, and coordination.” Riding a bike is also seen as a rite of passage for children, and with the proper equipment, Z will reach this milestone and find a new level of freedom.

Swenson, who calls Zach’s mom a “wonderful woman” who runs an in-home daycare in her home, wanted to help the family this holiday season.

“When I saw that Z’s mother wanted to get him the tricycle for Christmas but it was not going to be feasible due to the cost, I decided it was my turn to give back to them.”

As of the publication of this article, the fundraising campaign is more than halfway to its goal. If you’d like to donate, click here.

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