Diana Rovetti and 9-year-old Angelo Falcon last summer at the iCan Bike camp.

iCan Shine is a nonprofit organization which runs around 100 iCan Bike camps in 35 states, benefiting close to 3,000 people with disabilities each year. They use specialized equipment, a unique teaching method and trained volunteers to teach riders how to balance on a two-wheel bike. Research shows that more than 80% of people with autism and 90% of people with Down syndrome never learn to ride a two-wheel bicycle—often because they are never given a chance. Learn more at icanshine.org/ican-bike-reno-nv. We recently spoke with Diana Rovetti, a project director at the Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities at the University of Nevada, Reno, College of Education, and the local iCan Bike coordinator. About 60-80 volunteers are needed for the upcoming June camp; email rovetti@unr.edu for more information.

How did you get involved in iCan Bike?

After having a son with Down syndrome in 1998, I made a promise to myself that I would help him to have the best, most-independent life possible. I really wanted him to know how to ride a bike. Our family struggled with teaching him this important milestone of childhood. While at a conference in Texas, I was introduced to an organization called iCan Shine. They said they could teach kids and adults with disabilities how to ride a bike. As soon as I got back to Reno, I started searching for funding to bring this organization and their iCan Bike camp to Northern Nevada. A couple of years later, in 2013, I held the first iCan Bike camp in Reno.

When and where is the next event?

This year, the Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities is hosting the Northern Nevada camp in Gardnerville from June 26-30 at the Douglas County Community and Senior Center. Participants choose one of five 75-minute sessions to attend all five days of camp. There is a fee of $99 for Nevada residents and $199 for non-residents to attend the camp.

How many participants do you expect?

We can accommodate 40 riders in our camp this year. We will have eight riders in each of our five sessions. Riders need to be at least 8 years old and be diagnosed with a disability. They must have a minimum inseam of 20 inches, weigh under 220 pounds, be able to sidestep to both sides, and walk without assistive devices. We also ask that riders attend all five days of camp.

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What are your fondest memories of the program over the years?

After 25-year-old Zach Trim took his last lap of the day on his bike at the iCan Bike camp in 2013, he approached me and said, “Thank you for this camp! I am so happy that now I can ride a bike! I don’t have to rely on my mom to take me to work anymore!” That warmed my heart and really gave me a drive to continue to host the camps in Nevada. Every year, on Wednesday of the camp, we start launching riders on two wheels. There are so many happy tears! Every year, that day reminds me why I host the camps, and every year, I vow to do it again the next year!

David Robert is the photo editor of the Reno News & Review. In his first stint as the RN&R’s photo editor, he won multiple Nevada Press Association and Association of Alternative Newsmedia awards...

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