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After contest loss, bike effort continues

Despite an effort that led to more than 4,000 votes for 9-year-old Abbygail Nutz in a national contest, the Randall girl fell short of earning an adaptive bicycle.

Jessica and Abby Nutz sit on a playground set recently at their Randall home. Abby, who has cerebral palsy, was not selected as a winner of an adaptive bicycle in a national contest. The Nutz family has decided to raise the funds themselves to purchase a bike for Abby. (Brainerd Dispatch/ Steve Kohls)
Jessica and Abby Nutz sit on a playground set recently at their Randall home. Abby, who has cerebral palsy, was not selected as a winner of an adaptive bicycle in a national contest. The Nutz family has decided to raise the funds themselves to purchase a bike for Abby. (Brainerd Dispatch/ Steve Kohls)

Despite an effort that led to more than 4,000 votes for 9-year-old Abbygail Nutz in a national contest, the Randall girl fell short of earning an adaptive bicycle.

But the Nutz family is not giving up in the quest for a bicycle fit for Abby, who has cerebral palsy. The disorder, which affects the cerebellum of her brain, impacts her muscle control and prevents her from walking on her own or speaking.

"We had over 4,000 votes," said Jessica Nutz, Abby's mom. "It's hard to see when we worked so hard. I'm still happy for everyone who got a bike."

The bicycle Abby attempted to win is a tandem bicycle, although instead of riding behind her parents, Abby would be in the front. The bicycle has a full seat with a five-point harness, providing the support Abby needs while still allowing her to pedal. Steering is done from the regular bicycle seat in the back.

Although Abby is unable to verbalize her love for bike riding, Jessica said her face lights up when she is able to ride one at her physical therapy appointments. The benefits of adaptive bike riding are numerous, according to those at the Michigan-based nonprofit Friendship Circle, which hosted the Great Bike Giveaway.

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"To millions of Americans, bike riding is something that we do for fun," the organization's website states. "For most, little thought is given to the importance of owning a bike. For individuals with special needs, a bike can be a lifesaver."

These include physical health benefits, such as an increased range of motion, enhanced hand-eye coordination, increased circulation and others. Quality of life benefits are also a key part of why the organization runs the contest, including a reduced potential for depression, enhanced social inclusion, improved sleep quality and improved overall emotional health.

The benefits possible for Abby are clear, but the cost of an adaptive bicycle can be prohibitive.

Typically a $7,594 bicycle, the manufacturer is offering a discount to those who were not selected as winners in the giveaway contest. The bicycle will cost $5,700 instead, and the Nutz family has a plan for raising the funds needed to purchase it.

"I have never tried to raise funds for anything that she's needed," Jessica said.

Jessica set up a gofundme account to help in the fundraising efforts and a spaghetti dinner is scheduled for 4-7 p.m., April 30, at the Randall VFW. A silent auction will also take place, with donations from area businesses. Jessica said Coborn's in Little Falls donated food for the event.

It was also through Coborn's that Jessica connected with an anonymous donor who offered to cover half of the cost of Abby's bike.

"She's almost 10," Jessica said. "It'd be nice to have a bike for the summer for her, when she's at an age where she'll really get the max benefit out of the stretching of her legs."

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How to help

โ€ข Donate at Abby's gofundme page. Visit www.gofundme.com/zayp9r6s to make a donation.

โ€ข Attend the spaghetti dinner planned for 4-7 p.m. April 30 at the Randall VFW, Post 9073, 401 Pacific Ave., Randall.

CHELSEY PERKINS may be reached at 218-855-5874 or chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchChelsey .

Chelsey Perkins is the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch. A lakes area native, Perkins joined the Dispatch staff in 2014. She is the Crow Wing County government beat reporter and the producer and primary host of the "Brainerd Dispatch Minute" podcast.
Reach her at chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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