6 years in, Preston’s March still bringing bikes, smiles
NEWARK, Del. (AP) — Will Harp thought he was at Independence Prosthetics and Orthotics for a check-up appointment. Harp, 11, has cerebral palsy and Independence owner John Horne has been a part of helping Harp live his day-to-day life a little easier.
But on Oct. 1, Horne gave the boy something different.
The side door at Horne’s Newark location swung open and in the parking lot was a Chrysler minivan with the bright orange Preston’s March wrap. Already strapped in to his specialty bike was 19-year-old Preston Buenaga, whose mitochondrial disease was the impetus for his parents launching a nonprofit to put more kids on bikes throughout the country.
Harp became the 228th child to receive a bike through Preston’s March for Energy, started six years ago last week by Preston’s parents, Deb and Steve Buenaga of Wilmington. Most of the bikes - which run between $1,500 and $2,500 - are provided through fundraising by Preston’s March, but Harp’s bike was bought and donated by Horne.
“I like it,” Harp said with a smile after he wheeled he electrical chair out into the parking lot.
With the help of his physical therapist Tracy Stoner, the Buenagas and Horne, Harp rode around the parking lot using the specially-designed handlebars to steer and move the bike. He previously had a specialty bike that didn’t work out.
Harp’s mother, Julianne, wrote later on Facebook that Harp took the bike for a spin in the dark to show his dad.
Deb Buenaga was happy to hear the news: “It’s just an extra smile that we get to help make,” she said. “It’s cool for the parents, too. Some of them never thought their kids would ride a bike.”
Buenaga, an avid runner, has been putting smiles on faces for six years. Preston’s March for Energy was started after the Buenagas saw the way Preston reacted upon receiving his first bike, which was purchased through crowdsourcing. Friends and family helped raise $2,300 for the bike, which Preston’s older brother, Alex, who worked at Brandywine Cyclery, helped assemble.
The bike cost $2,200. So Buenaga, formerly a preschool teacher with prior experience at the American Heart Association, used the remaining $100 to start Preston’s March.
The charity has taken Buenaga to 29 different states. They’ve given away bikes in Phoenix, inside restaurants, during flash mobs and once on the court at the BMO Harris Bradley Center during a Milwaukee Bucks game. Last year they joined the Delaware 87ers and gave five bikes away on the court at the Bob Carpenter Center.
Two adaptive bikes were given away in the past two weeks.
Events and other fundraising efforts help make bike presentations possible. The sixth annual Corks and Cookies event is Friday, Oct. 20 at the Delaware Contemporary. The event features hors d’oeuvres, beer and wine tasting and, of course, local pastry chefs participating in a cookie competition. More information can be found at prestonsmarch.org.
“When Preston got his bike six years ago,” Buenaga said, “we said, ‘There has to be other kids like this that deserve the same opportunity.’
“Our journey has been incredible and it hasn’t ended yet.”
And, right now, it shows no signs of slowing. Buenaga said there are more than 60 kids on the waiting list for bikes.
“If I could get every child a bike tomorrow, I would,” Buenaga said.
Information from: The News Journal of Wilmington, Del., http://www.delawareonline.com