ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — It’s a big moment in one’s life — the day they learn how to ride a bike. 

At AutismUp’s ‘iCan Bike’ program, volunteers help children and teens of all abilities experience that special moment. 

The 12th annual camp took place this week at the Golisano Training Center on the Nazareth College Campus.  

“iCan Bike is a five-day specialized program that teaches individuals with disabilities how to learn to bike,” Camp Coordinator Bella Ponticello said. 

Ponticello said they partner with the program ‘I Can Shine’ to provide specialized, adaptive bike equipment. Most participants start off on roller bikes and within five days, they learn how to ride a conventional bike. 

“It’s not actually two wheels, but it’s not training wheels, and the roller bikes start from being more stable and they get wobbly throughout the week, and then we have people up on two wheels by the end of the five days,” Ponticello said. 

More than 40 participants take part in the camp and Ponticello said it can be emotional for some families. 

“There are tears of joy in the parent’s and the kids’ eyes, they are so excited,” she said. “Yesterday we had someone get up who was incredibly nervous, they started crying, and ran over to their mom and said, ‘I did it, mom, I did it,’ and it was really, really incredible.”

The program is run by certified instructors and more than 80 volunteers. JohnMark Wiedefeld said the program has had a huge impact on his 9-year-old daughter Kat. 

“It’s so exciting, it’s so exciting to see her so excited, that is probably the best part,” Wiedefeld said. “She’s so proud of herself and she should be, she’s working hard all week. So it’s really awesome.”

With a nearly 100 percent success rate, the program changes the lives of children and teens, helping them build confidence and independence. 

“With the family bike rides, she (Kat) will join us and be able to go on her own or just go to her friends’ house, just giving her that independence that she needs and wants,” Wiedefeld said. 

“For a lot of these people, they have been trying for years to ride a bike and it’s a right of passage, so we’re just trying to help all these individuals learn this right of passage and achieve this milestone in their life,” Ponticello said. 

AutismUp has hosted 440 riders and more than 1,000 volunteers over the past 12 years of the camp. To learn more about the ‘iCan Bike Camp,’ click here.