One of Dawn Mohatt’s favorite memories with her daughter Allyson was when they spent time at the park together. With her daughter Rachel, it was when she got her first bike. Although these are common childhood experiences, Mohatt had a greater reason for appreciating them. Allyson, born in 1995, and Rachel, in 1999, both suffered from nemaline myopathy, a rare form of muscular dystrophy. Their bodies were weak, and they relied on walkers and wheelchairs to get around. Their lack of muscular development meant that a common cold could become a life-threatening illness for the girls. Mohatt and her husband Roger tried to provide their girls with the most normal life possible, before they both passed away at age five.
During their short lives, the girls attended their neighborhood preschool and had many positive experiences, thanks in part to adaptive equipment.
“We wanted them to have fun and have the same experiences as typical kids, and see the joy in their faces,” Mohatt says.
It was this fact that led the Mohatts, with the help of family and friends, to found the Two Angels Foundation in 2005, in memory of Allyson and Rachel. The foundation’s first effort was to organize a golf tournament that benefited the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Today, it is focused on providing adaptive bicycles for children in Colorado with disabilities. Even if a family has good insurance that pays for walkers or wheelchairs, Mohatt says that items like bicycles are not covered.
“We saw a need for recreational adaptive equipment because that’s what made the girls so happy,” Mohatt says.
Four times a year, the Mohatts meet with their board, including a physical therapist and a physician, to review applications and give away bikes. All bikes are specific to each child’s individual needs—one might include a hand cycle; another might have a tall seat with straps for trunk support; still another might feature a pulley system so the child doesn’t have to peddle as hard.
Since the beginning, the foundation has given away more than 375 bikes, totaling $540,000. Parents wishing to apply for a bike for their child can fill out an application on the website, and will need a note from a physical therapist to confirm the need.
“Typically we approve applications until we run out of funds,” Mohatt says. She encourages families who cannot receive a bike within the year to re-apply the following year, at which time they’ll be at the top of the list.
How Families Can Help
Each year, Mohatt says there are about 10 to 15 applications for bikes that the foundation can’t fulfill, based on fundraising. To help, families can:
- Be a race volunteer for Two Angels Miles for Smiles 5K Run/Walk and Jordyn’s Adaptive Dash each year
- Participate in Two Angels fundraisers throughout the year with your family and friends
- Volunteer to help with their Ugly Coat Classic golf tournament (adults only) on July 28
- Assist with occasional office administration tasks as needed, such as folding letters