Tellico Kiwanis donates specialized trike to Greenback student

A first bicycle often is special for a child, but for some kids it can be life-changing.

Greenback student Athena Owenby’s legs can’t pedal a regular bicycle, and her wheelchair can’t follow other children through the grass or across gravel.

An Amtryke therapeutic tricycle donated Wednesday by the Kiwanis Club of Tellico Village is specially designed for 13-year-old Athena, who is legally blind and has both cerebral palsy, which affects her mobility, and hydrocephalus, for which she has a shunt to manage fluid within her brain.

With the trike, “she can go outside and play with the other kids,” said Athena’s mother, Regina Owenby.
The therapeutic tricycle is specially design for Athena’s physical needs, starting with a hand crank system to propel it.
“She primarily uses one arm, but with the bike we hope that she’ll use both arms,” said Nancy Dunning, a physical therapist with Speech Pathology Services of East Tennessee, who has worked with Athena since the girl was in preschool.
Special mitts will attach both hands to the crank, exercising Athena’s left arm, even if it isn’t powerful enough to push the tricycle forward.
A push bar on the back will allow a caregiver to help maneuver her on the trike, and a locking pin can be inserted to keep the rider from inadvertently turning it.
For a child with special needs, the specialized trike “gives them a feeling of normalcy,” said Kiwanis member Fred Wicht.
“This will give her a chance to do something other kids are doing,” Dunning agreed.
The trike provides social and physical benefits. For example, having her hands up also will lead Athena to keep her head up and help with respiration, Dunning explained.
“They’re getting exercise they need, but it’s not like physical therapy,” Wicht noted.
Several Kiwanis members visited Greenback School on Wednesday afternoon to present the trike to Athena and her family. In thanking the club, Principal Mike Casteel said the donation was an example of the school motto, “Greenback Simply Loves.”
Athena’s bike is the 47th donated by the Kiwanis Club of Tellico Village in the past six years to children with conditions such as spina bifida, muscular dystrophy and others that seriously affect muscle tone and control.
“These bikes are like little miracles,” Wicht said.
“We partner with therapists, and they give us candidates,” he said. The therapists recommend families that would benefit from the trikes and then write the specifications for the features that will most benefit each child. For example, a trike can be pedaled by hand, foot or both.
Each specialized tricycle costs between $300 and $900.
The total cost so far has been about $27,000, with funding from individual contributions, local companies, two grants from the Kiwanis International Foundation and fundraising events such as the Kiwanis golf tournament and pancake breakfast.
To make a donation, contact Rick Bailey, treasurer of the Kiwanis Club of Tellico Village, at 312-3876 or send a check in to Kiwanis Foundation of Tellico Village, Attention: Treasurer, 120 Tooweka Circle, Loudon, TN 37774.