Summer Smith, a 10-year-old Cambria native, is getting around recreationally more easily, safely and enjoyably with her family these days, thanks to her new mode of transportation provided in part by the Jack’s Helping Hand nonprofit and LoneStar eBikes in Salado, Texas.
Summer has cerebral palsy, but her parents, Cambria native Justin Smith and Suriya Breen Smith, say their daughter loves to ride with her bicycle-enthusiast family.
It’s in her DNA: Summer’s father is an avid mountain biker and co-founder of the Cambria Bike Kitchen, which provides maintenance and bike repairs, gear and children’s programs, and the Cambria Trails Alliance (which maintains local trails so everyone can access them, whether they’re on a bike, a horse or a wheelchair).
For years, the Smith family (Justin, Suraya, Summer, her twin sister Jade and 5-year-old brother Ivan) continued to cycle together regularly. Because of Summer’s condition, she rode in a standard “co-pilot” style bicycle. But now that Summer’s grown taller, that option isn’t safe anymore.
“The temptation when someone in your family can’t move well is to either leave them behind or to not do those types of activities, and we didn’t like either of those options,” her mother said.
Added Suraya: “When you are missing one kid in a family experience, it feels like a piece of your heart is missing.”
Then Jim Aaron, a friend told the family, about a special bike that could safely support Summer on their family rides. But the bike was an expensive purchase for the young family. Suriya declined to say how much the pricey bike cost.
“We’re very grateful that Jack’s Helping Hand and LoneStar e-Bikes were able to help us,” she added.
The nonprofit and LoneStar eBikes were able to offset about half of the cost for the new bike, making it affordable for the Smith family. The Smiths first heard about the nonprofit through California Children’s Services, a statewide government organization that has provided support for Summer. Her new ride was one of the first of those models manufactured by Yuba Bicycles, Suriya said.
The Smiths opted for the model with the built-in electric motor, she said with a chuckle. “Without that, we just wouldn’t have been able to move it!”
The rig is about 107 inches long and 32 inches wide, so “it’s kind of like taking her on a motorcycle” side car, the kids’ mom said. Justin Smith controls Summer’s ride, because “it’s a pretty massive bike, big and heavy,” Suriya said. “Justin’s so big and strong, he’s able to handle it.”
Summer’s ride is tricked out with an adaptive bamboo box, mounts, baseboard and rain canopy, so the young lady can participate regularly on outings with her very active family.
The Smiths modified the ride for her by adding a car seat “to make it comfortable for her,” Suriya said.
“We’re so grateful that it does fit her and that she likes it,” she said.
And as the young lady continues to grow, the family can modify the bike further. Now that Summer has her new bike, her mom said, “we’re still getting back into the habit of going as a family.”
With the rainy weather and other factors, “we haven’t used it yet as much as we’d like to, but when we have, Summer’s really enjoyed it.”