Athletes Hit the Road in Special Olympics Cycling Classic
DOVER, Del. - There's a lot of "bike-citement" here on Delmarva; it's bike week in Ocean City and the Sea Gull Century ride is just a few weeks away. But Saturday, hundreds came out to watch as riders at Dover Air Force Base hopped on their wheels in a competition as unique as they are.
"This is his first cycling event that he's been able to participate in," said Deborah Buenaga, whose son Preston was a competitor in the Delaware Special Olympics Cycling Classic.
He was one of nearly 50 athletes riding along routes from 500 meters to a 20k, some whizzing by with incredible speed, and everyone cheering them on.
"The spirit today is absolutely phenomenal," said Jennifer Vallee, Chief of Community Relations at Dover Air Force Base. "Everybody's excited, this is a great event."
In its fourth consecutive year, the Cycling Classic gives bikers like Preston - who has low muscle tone and developmental delays - a chance to fulfill a dream on a very special set of wheels.
"It's designed especially for Preston," Buenaga said. "There's extra lumbar support because he has balance issues, and it has a pulley system that creates a centripetal force so he's able to pedal."
Hundreds of Air Force Base volunteers were on hand to coach, encourage and time each individual athlete in a race to set their best personal record.
And no matter how long it took to cross the finish line - each of them were champions.
"Its so great," Buenaga said. "I always tell everybody 'Put on your bucket list to come to a Special Olympics event.' It's so wonderful to see the smiles on their faces.
In order to help others with special needs get a custom-designed bike, Buenaga started the non-profit "Preston's March for Energy," so that every child can have the dream of just riding a bike with friends come true.
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