Nonprofit helps people with special needs get specially modified bicycles: 'Once they get on that bike, it's pure joy'

non profit bike modifier
Hal Honeyman of Project Mobility Photo credit Rachel Pierson

(WBBM NEWSRADIO) — Hal Honeyman has been involved with bicycles as a business and hobby since 1975.

“It never gets old and it doesn't matter if you’re young or old,” he said.

He opened up the Bike Rack in west suburban St. Charles. His cycling interests shifted, though, when his son Jacob was born with Cerebral Palsy.

“He's a triplet,” said Honeyman. “So when his two sisters came time for them to start riding a bike, we tried to figure out: What could Jacob ride?”

In 2003, Honeyman founded Project Mobility, a nonprofit which provides specialized bikes for children, adults and wounded veterans with disabilities.

“We might take a regular bike and put on brakes with single site controls, maybe give them something to help their feet secure to the pedals a little bit,” Honeyman explained. “And other people, we take a trike, a recumbent trike, or an upright trike, and we just make a few changes.”

If necessary, he said, a bicycle can be made “from the ground,” depending on the rider’s needs.

Honeyman estimates the nonprofit has paired close to 15,000 people across the country with specially modified bikes.

He says every single cycle changes someone’s life.

“When I see an adult that's been in a wheelchair for a while or an injured veteran or a child who's been limited mobility all their life, once they first get on that bike, it's always the same. It's pure joy,” Honeyman said.

This year, Project Mobility is hosting six different events for disabled veterans, which includes a bike-fitting and a 6-mile ride.