Resources > Blog > November 27, 2021

A Trike for the Parkinson’s Community of Denver

Written by Davis Phinney Foundation Ambassador Tom Palizzi 

A little more than a year ago, I received an email from Carol Broadwell, asking if I could help her find a new home for an adult upright trike. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2015, Carol purchased the trike shortly after the pandemic began, thinking it would be a good way to spend time outside during lockdown. Shortly after purchasing it, however, she realized it didn’t quite work for her like she had hoped, irritating a knee injury. But, rather than sell it, she was asking my help to pay it forward. She wanted to donate it to someone within the Denver Parkinson’s community. 

Carol Broadwell
Carol Broadwell

“I’ve always been a strong believer in the enormous value of exercise for those of us with Parkinson’s,” Carol said. “I know personally I’ve benefited greatly from walking, stationary cycling, and dance, as I’ve been able. I’m grateful that Tom and the Davis Phinney Foundation have been able to promote this value by placing the trike with others in the Parkinson’s community.” 

I put out the call to people in my Parkinson’s network. Although the first person was excited about using the tricycle, she later decided it would be more of a novelty to her and encouraged me to find someone else—someone who might need it more than she. (Having known her for a long time, this came as no surprise. Her life’s story is all about putting others ahead of her own needs and wants.)   

Next on the list was Liz Easterly. She and her husband came by to pick up the trike and for the next year, she could be seen riding it around the Central Park neighborhood (formerly Stapleton). No longer driving, she used the bike for trips to the grocery store, running local errands, and bike rides with her kids.  

“I was able to keep up with my 11- and 14-year-old sons,” Liz said, “joining them on bike rides along the trails through the neighborhood, and to and from school.” 

“I loved the stability of the bike. It reminded me of the beach cruisers in North Carolina.”
-Liz Easterly

Liz Easterly
Liz Easterly

The trike had a new home and life went on, or so I thought. Then, this September, Liz called to tell me she wanted to pass the trike along to another person with Parkinson’s, in the same way it had come to her. She enjoyed using the trike, but as her symptoms rapidly increased, she became unable to ride it safely.    

Picking up the trike at Liz’s, it occurred to me that it could really belong to the Parkinson’s community as a whole, made available again and again to someone with Parkinson’s for however long they could safely use it. I put the bike up in a lottery to the greater Denver Parkinson’s Community.   

Valerie Graham’s name came out on top and when I called, her response was priceless.  

“I can hardly believe it, Tom,” she said. “I never win anything! I’m so grateful. You have no idea how long I’ve wanted an adult trike!”   

Well-known in the Denver Parkinson’s community, Val was diagnosed nearly 30 years ago and is among the first recipients of deep brain stimulation (DBS). She’s been an outspoken advocate for people with Parkinson’s, especially women. She helped form and guide the Bionic Brigade—a support group for local DBS patients.   

“I’ll be using the trike for local errands and to enjoy time with my husband and daughter on the trails near Cherry Creek Reservoir.”
Val Graham

Val Graham
Val Graham

I’ve put together a fairly simple set of Terms and Conditions to protect the idea and the people involved and to ensure the trike will continue to go to someone in the Denver-area Parkinson’s Community. Through a lottery, a rider is selected to use and care for the trike for as long as they’re able. When the current rider can no longer use it safely, another lottery finds the next rider, and so on.   

Creating this trike-share program has been such a joy. When Carol asked me to help her find a new home for the trike, I was humbled. And then, when Liz called with the same request, I could see there was something special about this program, and I hope to see that trike out there for a long, long time! 

Learn More about Cycling’s Benefits for People with Parkinson’s

Cycling and Parkinson’s: What We Know (and Are Learning) So Far

What You Need to Know about Cycling with Parkinson’s

2018 Davis Phinney Foundation-funded Research Study Pushes the Pedals on Living Well with Parkinson’s Today

8 Reasons to Use Your Bike as a Tool for Good

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about eBikes for People with Parkinson’s… and More

How a Bicycle Ride Led to Groundbreaking Parkinson’s Research