THE BRONX — All this week, the New York Yankees have been making dreams come true around the city as part of the annual Hope Week.
Today, the Yankees partnered with a local bike maker who is helping children with special needs experience an essential part of childhood by creating adaptable bikes.
Kiko Mina was speechless as he entered Behind Bars in Brooklyn on Friday. Kiko was born with a right brain bigger than his left. As an infant, it caused unrelenting seizures.
By the time he was seven months old he had four surgeries. Doctors had to remove the entire right hemisphere of his brain and gave him one year to live. Today, he’s 14 years old.
“There are times when he’s having trouble doing homework my husband would say, let’s take this with a grain of salt because everyday is like a bonus,” Kiko’s mother Lina said.
Now, thanks to the help of Sandra Alfonso and her non-profit AdaptAbility, he’ll be able to experience the joy of riding a bike. Alfonso started the company three years ago after a run in Prospect Park. During that run she passed two children, one on a bike, the other in a wheelchair.
“The kid in wheelchair was looking at the kid on the bicycle, screaming how fast he was going and because I was running in the opposite direction, it broke my heart,” said Alonso. “So I said that I want to make a difference and do something about it.”
So far she’s helped modify about a dozen bikes for kids and adults like Kiko and she says the feeling never gets old.
“It’s the best experience in your life,” she said. “It’s not only because you’re helping somebody, it’s because you are giving hope to somebody else.”
So to help spread the love and support Alfonso, the New York Yankees came out to help deliver the bike. Outfielder Cameron Maybin took Kiko out for his first ride. Kiko was surprised.
“All I knew was that I was just going to get the bike,” he said. “I didn’t know this was going to happen, all the reporters were going to be here.”
Yankee Infielder DJ LeMahieu says riding a bike is a childhood memory every kid deserves to experience.
“I lived in a neighborhood where I could bike to all my buddies’ houses, so a lot of memories on a bike for sure,” he said.
LeMahieu praised the Yankees Hope Week for the work it does in the city.
“It’s a really cool week for a lot of people around the area,” he said. “You know, we don’t get a whole lot of opportunities to help people, but when we do it means a lot. And I’m just glad that everyone on our team could be a part of something.”
Kiko’s mom believes it will bring big changes to his life.
“In the neighborhood he sees children biking and he just looks at them and to be part of it is amazing. Now he can bike with them.”
“You know, when you’re special needs you always feel like you don’t belong and earning friends is a challenge,” she said.
“So it really means a lot because then he’ll really have that feeling of belongingness, it’s just great! It’s super.”