2019 JEFFERSON AWARDS: Bettendorf Speech Pathologist Makes Difference By Building Special Bikes

They call them "builds" - when volunteers from all over the area come together to put together tykes for tots and teens with special needs.

"We're hitting our 100th bike today," said Katie Leamy, during her group's biggest build yet on Saturday, February 9th.

Three years ago, Katie started Mississippi Bend Trykes. At the time, it was Iowa's first-ever chapter of AMBUCS, a non-profit that partners with physical, occupational, and speech therapists to provide affordable, adaptable tykes to kids who just want to be kids.

"You think about being a part of your family, being a part of the kids on the block and that kind of rite of childhood - riding your bike, being outside and being involved with other kids," Katie explained. "As a Speech Pathologist, I'm also thinking about how they socially interact with other kids and get to be a part of those things."

"She has dedicated countless hours to fundraising, building bikes, and organizing events like this," said Jennifer Berger, Katie's friend and co-worker, who nominated Katie for the Jefferson Awards, a foundation that celebrates public service and the people in our communities who are changing lives.

"She's always impressed me as a professional Speech Language Pathologist," she added. "She's one who will go above and beyond for her patients and the families she cares for. She sees them as a whole person and she wants them to be successful and be able to participate in every area of their life to the best of their potential."

Every tryke is unique - just like the kids riding them. Every year, all of the recipients come together at parade and even races to show off what they can do and the progress they've made.

"I love what we do," Katie said. "It really is a team effort to be able to do this and give the kids bikes."

"Give For Good" is a slogan of the Jefferson Awards and Katie, now a 2019 Jefferson Awards Nominee, is a sign of how one person can make a difference.

"I'm really touched to be apart of these kids lives even in a tiny way and I love that they can go out and be a part of the fun with kids in their neighborhood or their brothers and sisters. I think that's what the best part of this is for me."

To learn more about Mississippi Bend Trykes, click here.

To learn more about the Jefferson Awards Foundation, click here.

Every Tuesday in January and February, WQAD News 8 is introducing you to our 2019 Jefferson Awards Nominees. Then, in April, we will announce our Jefferson Awards Finalist. That person gets to attend the National Jefferson Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C. this June and meet other Jefferson Awards Finalists from across the country.

The Jefferson Awards are sponsored locally by Genesis Health System and Budget Blinds.

To see who was nominated in all four previous seasons of the Jefferson Awards on WQAD News 8, click here.

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