Strider Sports International Inc., a manufacturer and marketer of no-pedal balance bikes, was honored by South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard with the Distinguished Service Award for its contributions to the rehabilitation and employment of South Dakotans with disabilities at the 2016 Governor’s Awards today.

Since its inception in 2007, Strider Sports International Inc. has donated over $600,000, which includes cash and bikes, to organizations that benefit children and adults including those with disabilities. The Strider Bike line-up includes the 12-inch model for younger riders and the 16-inch and 20-inch models, developed in the last couple of years for older children and adults with balance and coordination challenges like Down syndrome and autism. Research in 2015 showed that riding a Strider Bike helped children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

“Strider Sports International has done amazing things for our program at Rapid City Central High School,” said Amy Heuston, a special education teacher who submitted a letter of reference for the award application. “They not only have given us thousands of dollars in bikes and helmets, but have given their time and love to our students with severe/profound disabilities. Strider Bikes have made enormous impacts with many of our students, and in many skill areas.”

Heuston uses 13 Strider Bikes in her classroom and has seen benefits in physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech, behavioral and social.

Physical therapists such as Kim Burke, PT, MPT of Lifescape, use Strider Bikes, “to empower children and adults with disabilities to lead fulfilling lives,” as she wrote in her letter of reference. “Strider Bikes have been a great tool that continues to challenge balance, strength, endurance, motor planning, etc., in a fun and functional way.”

Many people with special needs never learn to ride a two-wheeled bike because of challenges with balance and coordination. Strider has worked with several organizations to change that, such as the Special Olympics Young Athletes Program. Starting in 2015, the Strider Cup Racing Series included Special Needs Races for individuals of all ages and abilities.

The Governor’s Awards ceremony is co-sponsored by the Boards of Vocational Rehabilitation, Service to the Blind and Visually Impaired, the Statewide Independent Living Council and the Department of Human Services.