ELK RIVER, Minn. (KMSP) - Do you remember how it felt when you got your first bike? A national contest is giving children with special needs that same feeling by giving them special bikes, for free.
A 4-year-old in Elk River, Minn. is campaigning to come out on top this year. On the surface, Emme Kersten looks like any other adorable little girl. But she's been overcoming obstacles since she was born, and she needs help to get past one more.
There's nothing more quintessential to being a kid than learning how to ride a bike. But even though Emme’s got her own set of wheels, she is looking for a brand new ride.
"It’s pretty important for Emme," dad Adam Kersten said. "She's a very active little girl and she's grown up not always understanding her limitations. She's always done her own thing, and she's gotten by and done what she wants."
Emme was born prematurely, weighing only 5 pounds and 2 ounces after her mother noticed she wasn't moving in her womb. A lack of oxygen and iron left her with cerebral palsy, meaning she has to use braces on her legs and a special walker to get around.
"There are times when she has to sit back and watch her sister or neighbors go play doing something that isn't conducive for her. It doesn't work unless my husband and I are there to make it adaptive and work for her," mom Jessica Kersten said.
She doesn't have the balance to ride a 2-wheeled bike like her friends and sisters, but an adaptive tricycle costs nearly $3,500 and isn't covered by insurance. So Emme’s army hopes she can get enough votes in a national contest called “the great bike giveaway” to win one for free.
"That's one of the reasons we're so excited about the bike contest is so she can go out and be part of the group," Dad said. "She does it at daycare and she does it at physical therapy so I think it would be great to have something that's adapted specifically for her. So she can run around just like the other kiddos."
Getting a bike is a rite of passage many kids take for granted. But for Emme, it would be a major milestone towards a better life.
"It’s a lot to try to get that bike for her but we feel passionate about it. We feel passionate about the benefits it could have for her. So we advocate for her," Jessica said.
Voting in the "great bike giveaway" runs until the end of the month. Right now, Emme is in fifth place in her category with nearly 2300 votes.
If you'd like to vote for Emme, click here.