Strider Sports International has been supporting Special Olympics since 2013. Starting out locally, in Rapid City, SD—where the SSI World Headquarters is located—they began participating in smaller events like the South Dakota Special Olympics State Games with a small demo area for athletes and their families to test out Strider Balance Bikes.
With the launch of the Strider 16” and 20” Balance Bikes for older children, elderly, and individuals with disabilities in 2014, the Special Olympics USA Games was the perfect place to debut this life-changing product. Nearly 3,500 Special Olympics athletes from throughout the United States gathered together to compete in 16 sports, with cycling being among them. Strider had a strong presence at the Special Olympics Young Athletes Festival where children under the age of 8 (who are not yet eligible to compete in Special Olympics) could test ride a bike and have their first Learn-To-Ride experience. Spectators, therapists, teachers and parents could hardly contain their emotions when they witnessed many of the children in attendance riding on two wheels when they had believed prior to this, or had been told by doctors, it wasn’t possible.
Since then, many state-level Special Olympics groups have implemented Strider Education Inclusive Learning Riding Basics classes into their programming for both the Young Athletes and older Special Olympics athletes.
In 2014 the Strider Cup World Championship was held at Main Street Square and was the first Special Olympics race! Each year, Strider Sports International holds Strider Cup racing events throughout the nation with many of the racers being from Special Olympics teams in the host cities of the race.
These races have been an astounding success, which has led to smaller Strider exhibition races being held at Special Olympics State Games around the U.S. In fact, the first exhibition Special Olympics cycling event was held in New Jersey in 2017.
2017 also saw Strider Sports International begin piloting a transitional program with Special Olympics International to incorporate Strider Bikes, and the Strider Learn-To-Ride curriculum into the competition process with the hopes of Strider Racing being an inherent part of the future of Special Olympics Competition.
Special Olympics is the #1 ranked non-profit serving people with disabilities and one of the most recognizable nonprofit organizations in the world. Since January 2016, Strider Sports International has donated over $175,000 in Strider Bikes to Special Olympics. Because Special Olympics grows at a rate of 5% to 9% annually, the Strider Education Foundation is always looking for ways to increase support and awareness for Special Olympics.
"It was wonderful to watch the kids demonstrate the coordination and balance skills that we’ve been working on through the APE program and achieve a new level of independence when riding the bikes…And because Strider Bikes is donating the bicycles to the students, they can further their progress at home with their families."
Dr. Amanda Young, Physical Education Teacher, KinderFrogs School and Starpoint School
"Stability scores in all body planes were significantly improved during the five-week duration,” said Shim, who conducted the research at the Pier Center for Autism in Sioux City, Iowa. “Starting on a STRIDER Bike can assist children with special needs in transitioning to a regular, two-wheeled bicycle without the anxiety of falling or using training wheels."
Dr. Andrew Shim, Chair of Briar Cliff University's Kinesiology and Human Performance Department
"This is all about the process of learning to ride in the right steps and never contradicting what you’re learning. So, they learn the proper balance and steer techniques that are identical to when you move onto pedal bikes. And what happens is with that success, all that stuff was kind of…that was out of reach or filed away, you say, OK, we just broke through what they told us was going to be the barrier, so now we don’t know how far we can take this."
Ryan McFarland, Founder, President, CEO, and Chief Enthusiast, Strider Sports International
"I currently have 8 bikes for my classroom and a wide variety of students use them. Students with physical impairments, BLIND students, kids with Down Syndrome, kids with autism; basically, anyone who can walk on their own (and even several who are a little shaky). We use them for recreation, social skills, community skills, physical therapy, adaptive PE, language development, and behavior interventions. They’re incredible."
Amy Heuston, Special Education Teacher/Special Olympics Coach
"The training program is a wonderful opportunity for children and adults to overcome anxieties about riding bikes in a fun setting with peers. It was so exciting to see such joy and enthusiasm from the youth who participated in our first week of training. We look forward to seeing the youth develop confidence in their abilities in the weeks to come."
Kerry Zingg, Easterday Center Director
"We would often stride to Super America on Lake Street and his goal was to get there in less than 25 minutes and if he did so then he could get a cherry icee! It definitely was a motivator."
Kathryn Jensen, parent of a 9th grade student
"I have 2 students that are twins, 8 years old, and in the Autism Program in Minneapolis. In recent years, the 2 have made significant gains in their motor abilities. I had the opportunity to work with the two using a strider and it was extremely beneficial to their balance and coordination. They were so excited there was a bike their size that was not overwhelming because of the pedals."
Troy Kirby, D/APE teacher