Rosewood Services coordinated the purchase of a specialized tricycle for a Pawnee Rock teenager with special needs. Italia De Tello, 17, received her new trike in mid-May, two years after her previous tricycle was mangled in a tornado that swept through Pawnee Rock. The purchase of the trike was made possible by contributions of three entities: Rosewood Roots & Wings Foundation, Southwest Developmental Services Inc., and Salina AMBUCS Breakfast Bandits.
“The De Tellos are such a giving family; they’ve done a wonderful job of always trying to make the world a better place,” said Vicki Schmitt, senior director of Rosewood Services. “They are very deserving of this donation.”
The project began several months earlier with a request from Anita De Tello, mother of Italia, to Schmitt. Other needs had already been addressed for Italia in previous person center planning meetings, but Italia still needed the specialized tricycle that provides balance and coordination when she rides. The new mint-green trike with white wall wheels was finally purchased from Golden Belt Bicycle Shop in Great Bend and delivered to her.
“The bike is a miraculous blessing for us,” said Ted De Tello, who operates Praise Ranch in Pawnee Rock, along with his wife Anita.
The Ranch is a faith-based ministry, which provides emergency placement and serves as a first responder of children in need. The Praise Ranch facility suffered significant damage during the tornado, and the gymnasium took a direct hit from the storm. That’s where the children’s bicycles were parked, leaving them in a mangled heap.
“All their bikes were just one big ball from the tornado” explained Anita. “It made a sculpture of bikes.”
Operating a faith-based charity and with expensive repairs still needed for their tornado-damaged building, the couple has worked diligently to replace all of the bicycles for their children. After nearly two years, only the trike for Italia was missing because of its expense. Now, having bikes for all six of their girls is a significant event, said Ted.
“The bikes are important because they give our family an outside experience together,” he said, adding that they ride bikes twice daily, weather permitting. “This is our circle of trust with Italia; we do everything together as a family. We include her in everything because she is a key ingredient of our family. Now, she has her bike to join in once again.”
What was Italia’s reaction when she saw her tricycle for the first time?
“She was thrilled, about like if you came out and had a Maserati sitting in your garage, or a Countach or a Porche 911,” explained Ted. “That’s how big her joy was.”
“Her sisters wanted to get on it and try it, but that wasn’t happening. That’s her bike!” Anita added.
Anita has witnessed an additional benefit to Italia receiving her new tricycle. Living with autism, it can be difficult for Italia to express her feelings. The oldest of her siblings, the trike has now allowed Italia to outwardly express her independence, eight months after her younger sister, Isabella, began driving.
“I noticed Italia getting a bit more frustrated, a little more vocal than normal and I think it was because she saw her younger sister driving and doing these things that she’s not able to do,” explained Anita. “The bike has given her that independence. Being able to ride outside, she calls it her car. She hops on her car and now she is able to drive, too. She feels like her sister, actually able to drive something and in control of something. I think there is something to be said for special needs people and bikes.
“It’s amazing that three organizations pooled together to make this happen for her, said Anita. “We are so thankful for their donation to Italia and to our family.”