SOUTH SLOPE, Brooklyn -- Riding a bike for the first time is a milestone for most children, but with his rare genetic disorder, 7-year-old Otis Pacuk never has -- until now!
A Brooklyn bike shop owner donated a custom-built adaptive bike worth $4,000 to Otis, and the 7-year-old was all smiles when he rode it for the first time Thursday.
Otis has Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, a debilitating genetic disorder that left Otis nonverbal and nonmobile. This bike, however, hooks Otis' legs to its pedals, so he can freely move as if he were pedaling, said Perrier Mackell, Otis' mother.
"This is going to change his life ... he's not able to participate with other kids. Now he can bike ride with the other children," she said.
Mackell said she was walking in South Slope a few months ago when she noticed a drawing for an adaptive bike at Behind Bars.
She entered the drawing and met the owner of Behind Bars, Sandra Alfonzo, who has made it her mission to supply bikes to every special-needs child. She's raised close to $20,000 in donations, and she's already at work on the seventh adaptive bike.
"Otis is going to be extremely free," Alfonzo said. "He's going to feel the air in his face. That's going to be one of the most amazing things!"
Learn more about Sandra Alfonzo's mission at adaptabilitybike.org.
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