Brandi Deese started cycling with the Dothan Leisure Services Therapeutic Cycling Program.
Already a Special Olympian in swimming, cycling took Deese to Abu Dhabi where she won a silver medal in 2019.
“When I first started cycling, it was wonderful,” the 38-year-old said. “When I compete, you’ve got to go … When they ring the bell, then that’s your time to shine, you just have to fly.”
On Wednesday, Deese gave back to the therapeutic cycling program with a check for $2,829.07. She raised the money by producing and selling 2021 calendars full of colorful artwork and inspirational words.
Dothan’s therapeutic cycling program provides an opportunity for those with developmental disabilities to enjoy cycling either through traditional two-wheel bicycles or a three-wheel bike, called a tryke, modified specifically for the rider.
Deese rides a tryke, and in 2019, she won a gold medal for cycling in the Special Olympics National Games and went on to Abu Dhabi to compete during the Special Olympic World Games.
Along with her athletic life, Deese also creates art under the Facebook page Scribbling B. She began coloring about three years ago and works on her colorings from 6:30 to 9 p.m. each night. She sold 2020 calendars to raise money for the Friends group, a local Down’s syndrome support group. For 2021, she decided to give proceeds to the therapeutic cycling program. She sold the calendars for $10 each.
Along with the calendars, Deese makes frames and other items that she posts on Facebook.
“I just make whatever the Lord tells me,” she said.
Sheila Luker, Deese’s mother, said it’s wonderful that Brandi can give back to a program that’s meant so much to her.
“When she was born, they told us she might not walk, she might not talk, crawl, and then she might not live,” Luker said. “To see her able to do something like this, it’s just a miracle.”
Angie Lowe, therapeutics manager for Dothan Leisure Services, said the donation will go toward the cost of uniforms, equipment and even fees for cyclists to participate in competitions.
Under normal circumstances, the therapeutic program cyclists get together a couple times a week to ride. Volunteers ride along with them. One group rides the city’s Westgate bike trail while another group rides at the National Peanut Festival Fairgrounds where it’s easier for some cyclists to maneuver.
Lowe said the benefits of riding are both social and physical.
“It improves muscle strength and flexibility, cardiovascular fitness, joint mobility and those are things that are very important for our intellectually challenged individuals,” Lowe said.
Peggy Ussery is a Dothan Eagle staff writer and can be reached at email@example.com or 334-712-7963. Support her work and that of other Eagle journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today at dothaneagle.com.