Cycle program opens up new possibilities

May 24, 2023
Two men bend over to strap a young man into a three-wheeled cycle outside a school
Chad Catledge (foreground), Bruce Brumfield (left) and Ramey Fesperman help buckle a Clinton Elementary School student into his customized adaptive cycle. Photo provided

It took less than 30 seconds to bring them all to tears.

The mom. The teacher. The classmates. 

That’s because right there, in front of all of them in a high school gymnasium, a young lady who hadn’t made a sound in almost two decades began to squeal in delight. 

At the epicenter of those emotions was something so simple: a bicycle. But for that student – who was born with a rare combination of developmental and physical disabilities – it was so much more. It was a path to normalcy. To getting the opportunity to do something other kids do all the time. 

“To see the look on these kiddos' faces when they first start moving – totally on their own – is indescribable,” said MUSC Health physical therapist Julia Schroeder.

This is the power of Pedals Possible, a nonprofit that donates adaptive bicycles – ones equipped with customized seating, footplates and headrests, specifically designed for riders with special needs – to South Carolina public schools. 

To date, the program has provided 21 bikes to 17 schools. And though all of those 17 schools are in Lancaster County, program organizers Stephen Houston and Chad Catledge are working to make it statewide and beyond very soon. 

“Eventually, I don’t just see this as a South Carolina thing, I see it happening all across the country,” Houston said. 

In order for that dream to come to fruition, the two realized that some data to back up what common sense already told them probably wouldn’t hurt. So Catledge approached MUSC Health-Lancaster Division CEO Scott Broome and MUSC College of Health Professions (CHP) assistant professor Cynthia Dodds, PT, Ph.D. The two immediately jumped at the opportunity to get the University and its resources involved.

side by side headshots of Julia Schroeder and Elizabeth Humanitzki 
Julia Schroeder and Elizabeth Humanitzki

For the past year now, Schroeder and her partner, Elizabeth Humanitzki, a research occupational therapist at CHP, have collected boatloads of data. Once each child was introduced to one of the program’s adaptive bikes, the duo then observed him or her over an eight-week period – each child having to ride at least three times a week – looking at things like their facial expressions, posture and the level of assistance needed. 

Not so surprisingly, their data seemed to back up the smiles – riding bikes leads to happier kids. 

“It’s pretty evident that participating in this program makes a difference in these kids’ long-term lives,” said Humanitzki. “And to see it happening right in front of you is really incredible.”

To learn more about Pedals Possible, visit

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