Gym donates bike to students with special needs

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Two years ago, 16-year-old Micah Simon weighed 129 pounds and didn't have the stamina to make it through a shopping trip.

So his mother, Roberta, made changes to his diet and worked with Dayton Intermediate School to increase his exercise.

Now, he weighs 106 pounds and keeps up with the family on regular outings.

"He's like a new kid," Roberta said.

As Micah, who suffers from Down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome and low-level cerebral palsy, made the transition to Dayton High School, his mother wanted to ensure he remained active.

Vice principal Tim Logan approached River Vista Fitness owner Phil Cowee about allowing Micah to use equipment there.

As the conversation evolved, Cowee agreed to donate a recumbent exercise bike to the classroom and allow the students access to the gym.

"It started as something for Micah and blossomed into something wonderful that benefits the whole class," Roberta said. "I was tickled to find out they were going to do it."

Cowee said he was happy to provide the service.

"We're a small community so we try to help out where we can," he said.

Curtis Bent, who teaches comprehensive life skills to students with multiple handicaps, said the bike will help students maintain fitness and increase their longevity and quality of life.

"It needs to part of their life's rhythms as it should be part of ours," he said.

Although Micah cannot verbalize his feelings, Roberta said his smile and other gestures let her know he enjoys his time on the bike.

Aubrie Robards nodded vehemently when asked if she liked the exercise bike. And her mother is grateful.

"Fifteen minutes on a stationary bike may not seem like much to most of us," Wendy Robards said. "But for Aubrie, it means a chance at standing up longer on her legs to walk. More strength to hold her arms up to complete tasks, and the muscles in her heart will keep pumping blood."

As the adoptive mother to 18 children with special needs, Roberta said she works to keep all of them as physically active as they can be.

"It's easier for everyone to be sedentary," she said. "They need exercise just like anyone else. They just go about it differently than you or I."

Bent said in more than 30 years as a teacher he's always helped his students become fit. It complements other programs he's implemented where students, who range in age from 14 to 22, volunteer or work in the community to help them gain necessary skills.

He said by increasing their fitness, the students are setting a good example for him to follow.

"I should be doing what I'm expecting of them," he said.


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