Hook Elementary kindergartener receives special gift

Hook Elementary School kindergarten student Jayli Williams rides the adaptive tricycle she received after school Wednesday. Williams has a neurological condition that makes movement difficult for her, but the new tricycle will help provide her with added mobility and independence. The trike was provided by MiamiBucs, a local chapter of AmBucs.

TROY— All Kalen Ulmes wants for her daughter Jayli is the same opportunities other children her age have.

Sometimes, however, that’s difficult for Jayli Williams, a kindergarten student at Hook Elementary School. Williams has cerebellar hypoplasia, a neurological condition in which the cerebellum – the part of the brain that coordinates movement – is smaller than usual or not completely developed.

As a result, Jayli has to use a walker or wheelchair to get around and wasn’t able to ride a bike like her classmates.

“For years now, I’ve been trying to get her to ride a bike,” Ulmes said. “And she’s always wanted to know when she could have a bike. Just last night, I think she caught on a little bit to what was going on. She said, ‘How old do I have to be to get a bike? Do I have to be a teenager?’ And I was like, ‘Well, maybe we’ll see …’”

“We’ll see” became “we will” Wednesday afternoon, as Jayli received a special tricycle, adaptive to her needs, through Miamibucs – a local chapter of a national organization called AmBucs. The members of Miamibucs do fundraisers and have donors, which allows the organization to give the trikes away, at no cost, to youngsters with different abilities who cannot safely ride a standard bicycle.

Miami County Commissioner and local businessman Wade Westfall and his wife Susan donated Jayli’s bike. Family and friends were on hand after school to present a surprised Jayli with her bike. She immediately hopped on and began riding around the Hook gymnasium.

“It just means so much, because she can fit in with everybody else without having to look any different or be any different and she can just be her own person and be able to do the same things that typical kids are able to do,” said Ulmes, who was overcome with emotion watching her daughter ride around the gym.

Jayli was too busy riding to stop and talk, but the smile on her face told the whole story.

“It’s going to be amazing,” Ulmes said. “We’re going to be able to go for longer walks and she’s not going to get as tired using her walker. She’s not going to be pushed in a wheelchair. She’s going to be independent and go on her own. I think she’s going to love it. And she just got a new puppy, so she’ll be able to ride her bike now when we go on walks. We’re going to be able to have a lot of fun with it this summer.”

Ulmes said she was incredibly grateful to the generosity that has been shown to her daughter, and others with special needs, by the Troy community over the years.

“It’s fantastic, and I would like to see more and more of it,” she said. “People don’t realize the amount of support you need until you are in the special needs community and have a special needs member in your family. And just the support we’ve had from within the school, outside the school and within the community in general has been amazing.”