The Sequim Wheelers are almost ready to start biking without boundaries.
The Wheelers are a nonprofit that was launched in December to provide free bike rides along Olympic Discovery Trail for the elderly and disabled living in Sequim.
The nonprofit’s first wheelchair bike arrived at Ben’s Bikes on April 25. Ben’s Bikes provided an assembly through a private donation and now the nonprofit is gearing up for training in May with another established wheelchair bike program in Portland, Maine, to get the experience it needs to train its volunteers.
On Saturday, May 19, the nonprofit will debut its wheelchair bike from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the farmers market at the Civic Center Plaza, 152 W. Cedar St.
Nicole Lepping, the board president and founder of the nonprofit, said it is great to see the reality of this project coming together.
“We are very pleased to see our vision come to life: which is cycling for all ages and abilities,” said Nicole Lepping, the board president and founder of the nonprofit.
“We’re happy to add this service to the bike friendly community.”
The nonprofit started with Lepping and the support of her husband. Greg Lepping. Now her vision has expanded to a board of five members including Leilani Sundt, Susan Hedding, Paul Muncey and Mike Carpenter.
Muncey and his wife, Susan Hedding, said they first learned about the nonprofit when reading the Sequim Gazette, but met Lepping during a presentation she gave about the nonprofit at a support group for multiple sclerosis sufferers, such as Hedding.
Hedding said when Lepping gave her presentation to the group it was important for the group to hear of this program and heard a member express excitement about being able to enjoy rides on the Olympic Discovery Trail.
“It’s an amazing service,” Hedding said. “The goal is to bring wheels to the disabled community.”
Board members said the nonprofit has received about 40 donations from individuals and community organizations, such as the Sequim Sunrise Rotary Club who made a “generous” donation, to cover the cost of the bike.
The bike cost about $9,000 but the nonprofit still needs to purchase commercial liability insurance at about $2,500 to provide bike rides.
The nonprofit’s short-term goal is to raise $11,000 to cover the cost of insurance, train volunteers in June and provide rides starting July 1 depending on how much money is raised and if it can purchase the insurance.
“It’s very encouraging to see the support of the community so far,” said Paul Muncey, a Wheeler board member.
The bike will be stored at the Dungeness River Audubon Center at Railroad Bridge Park where wheelchair bike rides will start.
The wheelchair bike is described as an electric pedal-assisted tricycle that will have a “wheeler” in front and a trained volunteer in back. It is safe for guests and has passed U.S. and Canadian government regulations for safety testing.
Lepping said the nonprofit has about 30 volunteers signed up but it is looking for more. All volunteers are given a background check and must complete two rides of training before they provide rides to clients.
In the future, board members said it would like to have an adaptive wheelchair bike fleet to provide rides to serve people with a variety of disabilities.
For more information about the Sequim Wheelers, visit www.sequimwheelers.com/, the Sequim Wheeler Facebook page, or contact Nicole Lepping at firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations may be sent to P.O. Box 276, Carlsborg, 98324.