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Girl with rare disability gets bike designed just for her

December 24, 2020 GMT

MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. (AP) — A suburban St. Louis 8-year-old with a rare physical disability that leaves her hands with just one gripping finger has gotten a bike designed just for her.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Maeve Boatman picked it up last weekend from Variety the Children’s Charity. By Monday, she was on the Katy Trail.

The Maryland Heights nonprofit’s annual Bikes for Kids program has been running for 22 years, but for Maeve’s wheels, the nonprofit needed to look to new technology. Beginning last spring, Variety enlisted two designers to devise and 3D-print a handlebar adaptation.

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Maeve had prepared for her first ride. She spent the months waiting for the custom bike learning how to ride without training wheels and learning how to fall on her elbow rather than her hands if she topples.

“She is just so resilient,” her mother, Michelle Boatman, said.

Variety executive director Brian Roy said he hopes Maeve’s bike will be the first of many 3D projects.

“The idea is that once we up the scale, we will be able to make braces and things like this bike faster and cheaper,” Roy said. “And the custom designs make them something kids really can feel proud of.”