This is an exciting day for 10-year-old Mercy, and her mom, Michelle Hobby.

Mercy has developmental challengs, and is not physically able to walk.

“I was trying to think of a way to allow Mercy to be able to exercise,” says Hobby.

Hobby is a physical therapist, and one day, while she was at work, fate stepped in.

“Alf turned up at my work one day,” says Hobby.   ‘Alf‘ is Alf Todd, who has Parkinson’s disease, and has invented, along with Jeff Lewis, a pedal-powered wheelchair.

“He was driving down the hospital aisles,” Hobby remembers, “And I said, ‘Oh my gosh, that is so cool! Please, my daughter needs one of those right now!'”

Todd envisioned having a wheelchair he could pedal, because while there are many days when he can barely get out of bed, he’s always been able to get on his bicycle and ride even 20 or 30 kilometers.  And so he and Lewis invented the “AJ Pedaler,” which is powered by pedals, and steered by handles, thereby exercising all four limbs.

“It’s a wonderful invention,” says Hobby, “and I think it will be really great for people with different levels of ability!”

Including her dear daughter.

“She’ll be able to take this with her assistant, and she’ll be able to go around the playgrounds.  So for her, that’s great for her heart, and her lungs, and for her bones and her muscles.  It’s also great for her mind because she’s able to integrate with the other kids, and that’s awesome!”

The presentation of Mercy’s new wheels is an emotional day for Todd.  “It’s pretty special. We’ve worked hard to get this ready for her. She’s a very special child, and it’s just going to be great therapy for her, and it’s just great watching her.”

Lewis heartily agrees.

“I can’t say enough about how exciting it was to actually watch her pedal the chair.  We didn’t know if she was actually going to be able to, but she pedaled it!  This is her first time actually pedaling a bike, and she’s ten!  She’s never pedaled a bike, period.  So this is fabulous. Her mom was in tears. It was a pretty emotional thing.”

Hobby wants the two men to know how grateful she is, both for their invention, and the fact that they have given Mercy her AJ Pedaler for free.

“I want to say to Jeff and Alf, thank you very much! This really means a lot to me, and I just feel blessed,” said Hobby.

Todd thinks back to all the times he rode his bicycle, and longed not to then sit in a wheelchair.

“It’s a vision of mine that I’m seeing fulfilled and I just feel so blessed to be a part of it.  And we look forward to doing many more similar Pedalers for other people with disabilities.  Strokes, Parkinsons, whatever… there’s such a broad spectrum of uses for it.”

Click here to learn more about the AJ Pedaler.

Veronica Cooper