A local program that last year started giving rides to senior citizens on special Duet bicycles is so flush with volunteers that organizers are looking for more riders in 2019.
“It’s a great problem to have,” said Piatt County Nursing Home Assistant Executive Director Kara Olsen, noting there are 31 trained “drivers” and seven more volunteers in waiting for what is dubbed the “Pedal Pusher” program.
Two Duet bicycles, which include motorized assist, were purchased by the Piatt County Nursing Home/Maple Point Supportive Living last summer. The three-wheelers feature a wheelchair-like apparatus on the front, with volunteers pedaling from the back.
The program gave a majority of its 130 rides over a three-month period last year to long-term care residents, but Olsen hopes to offer rides to those of all ages this year.
“We would like to get some community riders, some members of the community who are interested. It’s not just for seniors, it can be for disabled adults, it can be for children,” she said. Her rule of thumb is that those as young as five years of age can participate, since they can usually be secured properly by that age.
“It’s open to anyone in Piatt County,” added Olsen.
The program hit Monticello roads and bike trails in August of last year after the bicycles were purchased and drivers trained. This year organizers hope to start back up the week of Supportive Living Week, which is April 22.
For now, riders will need to come to Maple Point in Monticello to get their three-wheel rides. A trailer may be added in order to haul bikes to other locations, but that may not happen in 2019.
“We’ve decided on five days a week, initially, so we’ll have two days for Maple Point, we’ll have one to two days scheduled for the nursing home, and then a community day scheduled,” said Olsen, who helped get the program going as the director of Maple Point. She was recently transferred to the nursing home, but will still be involved in the Pedal Pusher program.
Riders who took part last year gave their outings rave reviews.
“It was like you were on a ride on your own. It was like heaven,” Virginia Shonkwiler said after a ride last August. “There was so many flowers along the way, and just going through it and letting the air blow through your hair.”
Olsen is looking for help in these areas:
–Riders who are willing to come to Maple Point to receive rides;
–Volunteers who could help with administration of the Pedal Pusher program, for instance helping to schedule volunteers and rides; and
–Volunteers willing to help with transporting bicycles once that portion of the program launches.
Those wanting to ride or willing to help can contact Olsen at 217-762-6667 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.