Three-year-old Marlee was born with bilateral radial aplasia which makes it more difficult for her to complete some tasks. She doesn’t let her disability keep her from trying new activities and challenges. But one task that Marlee was struggling with was riding her new bike. She was having a hard time pedaling and keeping her center of balance because of the difficulty she had reaching the handlebars. Marlee’s mom and dad, Mandi and Matt, researched online for appropriate and affordable bikes or modifications for Marlee, but didn’t have much luck. Mandi explained this predicament to Marlee’s physical therapist, who then helped refer the family to Southwest Human Development’s ADAPT Shop, which customizes equipment for children with disabilities.

At the ADAPT Shop, the team measured Marlee on her bike and problem solved together in partnership with her parents. They agreed on the handlebar and pedal modifications that would be required to make it possible for her to comfortably ride the bike. Unfortunately, the updated bike wouldn’t be ready for another week. Not one to be deterred by delays, the Adapt Shop team loaned a modified bike to Marlee so that she could keep practicing while her bike was in the shop. This particularly touched Mandi because it showed how much the team understood Marlee’s needs and listened to the family. She expressed how appreciative she was of the level of care during the process.

“It was so easy to work with Southwest Human Development. They cared about what I had to say and what I thought. They listened and cared about what the OT had to say. They take pride in their work and the modification process was quick,” Mandi said.


When Marlee’s bike was ready and she was able to ride it, Mandi felt joyous and prideful. Mandi explained that riding the bike was life-changing for Marlee because of the modification. “When you have a child who is different, you don’t know what their life is going to be like. To see her struggle for so long and then just be able to do it, is amazing,” Mandi said.


These days, Marlee enjoys pedaling in the family’s neighborhood everyday and occasionally to the park. In addition to riding, Marlee likes to play with her Magna-Tiles, doctor kit, games, along with singing, dancing, and drawing. Soon, Marlee will be a big sister and will be able to show her little sister how to ride her bike too.