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Santa Maria student with degenerative muscle disease receives special bike

The Santa Maria community worked together to purchase a specially made bicycle for a 2nd grade student on Friday.

Albert Varelas received a special bicycle so he could participate in the bike safety lessons given to all the students in his grade.

Varelas has a degenerative muscle disease that affects the strength of his legs and creates other health issues. He uses a wheelchair for mobility.

Albert received a Challenged Athlete Grant last school year so that his family could be able to purchase him a specially adapted bike.

Unfortunately, the grant didn’t fund the entire amount of the bike he needed in order to ride independently.

In August, the Santa Maria Bonita School District Adaptive P.E. teacher Rachel Renkoski started a GoFundMe campaign to raise the rest of the money for Albert’s bike.

More than $900 was donated by community members and district staff within just a few days.

Renkoski and another P.E. teacher, Maurecia Rea-Clark, worked with Ken Dahmen of Bici Centro, a bike shop in Santa Maria to get the right bicycle for Albert at the right price.

With his three-wheeled bike he was able to participate with his peers in the bike safety lesson at Tunnell Elementary School. The next safety lesson will be this Friday.

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