Jack Roberts, left, and his good friend Jared Carston take Jack’s brand new custom-made trike for its maiden voyage on Saturday at Nayland College. Photo: Brittany Spencer.

Big thumbs up for Jack’s first bike

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At 14-years-old, Jack Roberts finally has his first bike – and he can’t quite believe it.

“This is the bestest day of my life,” said the Stoke teenager, as he was presented with his two-seat custom-made trike at Nayland College on Saturday.

A rare genetic disease called Kabuki Syndrome, which causes low muscle tone, prevents Jack from riding normal bikes – the only one he can ride comes with a hefty $10,000 price tag.

Nelson Weekly told Jack’s story back in July, and it took less than three months for the Nelson community to rally around him and raise the money to buy the trike.

And despite having a chest infection, Jack made it down to his school for the ‘surprise reveal’.

“Is it really mine?” he asked, as around 50 supporters, including family, friends and money donors erupted in applause.

“He had no idea at all,” says his mum, Sue Roberts.

“He even went outside on Sunday morning to check if the bike was real, and that it wasn’t just a dream.”

The trike allows someone to sit next to Jack and pedal too, and Saturday’s first ride was especially reserved for his good friend Jared.

“He was absolutely elated, being able to ride like all the other kids,” says Sue.

She adds that they have been “overwhelmed” with the support, from the free helmets from The Cycle Shop in Stoke, Mainfreight for getting the trike to Nelson, to everyone who donated.

Special thanks were given to the IHC for kick-starting the fundraising campaign and the Nelson Host Lions Club who donated around half of the total cost, as well as their labour for building a shed for the trike.

“When we started this idea of getting a bike for Jack and found out how much it was going to cost, I felt it would never happen,” says Sue.

“It is heart-warming to be on the receiving end of such kindness and we are grateful for every dollar that was donated.”

Sue says that the trike will be “life-changing” for Jack.

“Because of his low muscle tone, walking is not an option. He goes swimming once a week but that’s the only extra activity he gets, so cycling will give him a different form of exercise, boosting his physical and mental health.”

And, alongside his wheelchairs, fondly named Betsy and Vinnie, Jack has yet to decide on a name for the trike.

“It will no doubt get a name – it’s his thing,” says Sue.