From left: Preston heads out for a ride; Debbie and Preston celebrate after completing another marathon.
The sight of Preston Buenaga riding his three-wheeled orange bicycle around his neighborhood in North Wilmington has become quite familiar.
Preston, 18, was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease when he was a year old. The illness left him with low muscle tone and developmental delays, so he experiences balance issues and tires easily. There is no cure.
“He doesn’t let it stop him,” says his mother, Debbie. “The best thing for him is to exercise. The more exercise that you get, the more energy it creates.”
Thus, the family created the nonprofit Preston’s March for Energy after a friend held a fundraiser and presented Preston, then 12, with an adaptive bike. The Buenagas decided to “pay it forward” by ensuring that more children like Preston can have their own bikes.
The group has since donated more than 160 bikes in 20 states to children with special needs. The family still takes great pride in hand-delivering each bike.
“We haven’t given up delivering it in person because we love the smiles and hugs,” Debbie says. “I mean, those parents hug us and they don’t let go. Riding a bike is just something that we all take for granted. These parents never thought their children would ride a bike. And then the kids get on and they don’t get off.”
Each child also receives a copy of a children’s book called “A Bike to Call Their Own”—the story of Preston and his March for Energy.
Each bike costs between $1,400 and $2,500, and more than 70 children remain on the waiting list. The nonprofit relies on donations, as well as support from corporate sponsors, to buy the bikes.
Preston’s March will hold its inaugural Corporate 5K on June 1, 2017. Local corporations are asked to enter a team for the walk/run and businesses that raise more than $2,000 get to hold a bike unveiling in their lobby.
For more information, visit www.prestonsmarch.org.