Riding a bike is a treasured childhood experience, but sadly, many children with special needs miss out. An 8-year-old Wasilla boy was one of them until recently.


Eric Edwards was born with cocaine in his system and later diagnosed with cerebral palsy and other movement disorders that affect his ability to stand, sit and speak. He went into foster care when he was just three days old. Eight months later, Judy Edwards and her late husband adopted him.


“He just became so involved in our life. We just assumed he was going to go back to his parents but his birth mother passed away from lung cancer and his biological father kept testing positive for drugs, so the state asked us if we would keep him,” Edwards said. “At that point my husband was said ‘We’re not letting him go.'”


Despite Eric’s disabilities, his mother says he is smart, understands what’s going on around him and does his best to communicate.


“Eric does not see himself as disabled. He sees himself as a little boy who likes Sophia Carson. He likes watching other kids do fun things,” Edwards said. “It doesn’t seem like he looks at them with envy. He’s just enjoying their happiness,”


Edwards wanted her son to share those memorable childhood experiences, so she entered him in The Great Bike Giveaway. It’s run by Friendship Circle, a Michigan-based group raising money to buy 600 custom bikes for kids with special needs.


Eric was awarded one of the bikes. It’s bright red with three wheels and worth thousands of dollars. The special bike allows Eric to peddle while someone else steers from behind.


The smile on his face while riding says it all.


“It feels a little bit like letting go because he’s growing up,” Edwards said.


It turns out Eric was the only person from Alaska entered in The Great Bike Giveaway. His mother wants to get the word out so other children can experience the joy of riding a bike.


More information on how to sign up or donate to the cause is available here.


KTVA 11's Shannon Ballard can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.