MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – In Minnesota, bicycling is often a topic of conversation.

But it’s a conversation some Minnesotans can’t really identify with.

Friendship Circle is trying to change that. The group is attempting to raise money to buy 600 custom bikes for kids with special needs. Of those kids, 14 live in Minnesota.

Meet Charlie.

She is a 4-and-a-half-year-old, smiling little girl. She also has cerebral palsy, and a few other life-altering conditions.

With the help of mom, Jo Schifsky, and the rest of the family she is able to accomplish what she puts her mind to. She walks with the help of a personally adapted walker. She swings; Schifsky lays her on a pad atop a flatbed swing.

But there’s one thing that she isn’t doing – cycling.

“I think a bike makes a child more approachable,” Schifsky said.

When Charlie was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and her other rare condition, her mother said they didn’t give optimism with the diagnosis.

“They give you a pretty dire diagnosis, and they tell you she’s non-compatible with life,” Schifsky said. “She’s very compatible with life! Aren’t you Madame?”

Recently, Charlie got to test out a special bike that was compatible with her. While the family would love to obtain one, each one costs $5,000.

So, Charlie is entered into a contest from a Michigan-based group, Friendship Circle. The group is aiming to bring these special bikes to kids all around the country.

“God willing, our hope is we are going to be able to raise most of [the money.] All of it! But every bit of it we raise gives another child, another family, the feeling that they’re not alone,” Bassie Shemtov, the executive director of Friendship Circle, said via Skype.

“Any kind of freedom that we can give her, any kind of normalcy, is pretty fabulous because she doesn’t get to do a lot of things that other kids get to do,” Schifsky said. “This is something she can.”

The Great Bike Giveaway is only going on through March 30.  They need $1.5 million to cover all the kids, they’ve got about $200,00 so far.

If you’d like to see the Minnesota kids involved, view the list below.


Minnesota Kids!

Charlize from Mendota Heights
Emme from Elk River
Abram from St. Michaels
Meagan from Cottage Grove
Garett from Pine City
Camryn from Maplewood
Carter from Annandale
Tori from Watkins
Lila from Plymouth
Jack from North Mankato
Rowan from St. Cloud
Sophia from Alexandria
Emi from Sartell
Abbygail from Randall

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield