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Efforts of local veterans, therapists help disabled child

Posted on Monday, January 28, 2013 at 5:42 pm

For the Love of Christopher

Kristie Bentley and her six-year-old son Christopher share their excitement as the youngster tries out his new therapeutic tricycle, an AmTryke.

By Laurie Pearson, Staff writer

A mother who will stop at nothing to help her child, aided by Patrick Rehab & Wellness therapists, saw their efforts to get a therapeutic tricycle come to fruition last Friday when AMBUCS presented Kristie Bentley’s six-year-old son, Christopher, an AmTryke.

The special tricycle was delivered to the American Legion Towry Post 42 here by Nashville AMBUCS representative Gordon Brigman. Before Christopher arrived, American Legion Adjunct Leslie Law made some adjustments to customize the bike for the child’s height. 

When Kristie wheeled Christopher into the American Legion Hall, he squealed with delight.

“He is going to get a lot of use out of this,” Kristie said, beaming. Christopher’s big brother, Joshua Taylor, a ninth grade student, smiled as he watched his little brother on the AmTryke. 

“We build these bikes and give them away  … we get clubs to raise the money and we build them to give away – free – to the family,” said Brigman.

Christopher’s name was selected from the AMBUCS chapter’s wish list.  The chapter has given away 30 AmTrykes in the past 18 months, but there are still more than 700 names on the wish list. 

Receives AmTryke

Pictured, along with Christopher, are (from left) Joanna Barton, PTA; Kristie Bentley, mom; Suzanne May, OT; and Kerri Padgett, PT.

AMBUCS would like to see more of these AmTrykes donated to children and other disabled individuals. Three Patrick Wellness & Rehab therapists, Kelli Morrow, PTA, Joanna Barton, PTA, and Kerri Padgett, PT, are starting an AMBUCS chapter in Fayetteville so that more people locally get AmTrykes.

More than a year ago, Kristie began searching for a therapeutic tricycle to help her son develop stronger muscles and motor control.

He was born prematurely at 30-weeks, to Kristie and William Morres, and weighed only three pounds, 10 ounces. The tiny baby was born with hydrocephalus, epilepsy and cerebral palsy, and as a result, he has a number of disabilities that require regular physical therapy several times a week.

Patrick Rehab & Wellness physical and occupational therapists have been helping the little boy since the first six months of his life, both at the Patrick and during visits at  his school. 

So when Kristie pointed out the AMBUCS program to the therapists, they filled out an AMBUCS application, and Christopher’s name was put on a wish list to receive a free AmTryke. 

“Those girls are the heart and soul to me,” Kristie said of the therapists.

Padgett was Christopher’s first physical therapist when he was a tiny baby. Morrow currently sees Christopher two times per week at school, and then twice a week, Barton sees Christopher at the Patrick.  Occupational Therapist Suzanne May, who travels to both city and county schools, also works with Christopher at Highland Rim School, where he is a kindergarten student. 

 “She never gives up on them,” says Kristie, referring to May.

The OT has worked with individuals for years across the state of Tennessee.


May has seen a lot of improvement in Christopher since she first began working with him. She believes the tricycle will help him a lot.

“The more movement he does, the more is committed to motor memory,” May explained.

AMBUCS donated the AmTryke to Christopher and also demonstrated an AmTryke designed for veterans, which was scheduled for delivery.

Legion Presents AmTryke (2)

Pictured are (from left) Post Commander Wayne “Jerry” McDow, Christopher and Leslie Law.

In addition to providing AmTryke Therapeutic Tricycles to people with disabilities, AMBUCS takes on community service projects, such as building wheelchair ramps and providing scholarships for therapists. Their network of volunteers strives to empower others and make the world more accessible to those with disabilities.

A national non-profit organization founded in 1922, AMBUCS is a diverse group of people who are dedicated to creating mobility and independence for people with disabilities.  

AMBUCS has been pairing up with various organizations, such as the American Legion, Disabled Veterans, as well as motorcycle and civic clubs, in order to give more AmTrykes to hundreds of people throughout Tennessee.

Clubs and organizations raise the funds for the therapeutic tricycles and then AMBUCS builds them.

 For more information about AMBUCS, visit www.ambucs.org.