ATI Foundation empowers impaired local Arizona child

Sebastian Fleming has Kleefstra syndrome. The ATI Foundation gave him an adaptive bicycle that would meet his needs. (Photo courtesy The ATI Foundation)

When Goodyear resident Charles Fleming was searching for an adaptive bicycle for his 8-year-old son, Sebastian — who was diagnosed with Kleefstra syndrome, a genetic disorder characterized by lack of the ninth chromosome and marked by intellectual disabilities, nonverbalness and a spectrum of complex physical and clinical features — he reached out to the ATI Foundation and found the support he needed.

In late April, the ATI Foundation, whose mission is to provide resources and funding to children with physical impairments to enhance and sustain a better quality of life, held its Inaugural Arizona Golf Outing at Stonecreek Golf Club, where Sebastian was presented an adaptive bicycle customized to meet his specific needs.

In addition to honoring Sebastian, as well as another local child, the goal of the golf event was to raise funds for future beneficiary families who are currently on ATI Foundation’s Arizona waiting list, said Terry Williams, vice president and executive director of the ATI Foundation.

“When we have these regional events across the nation, we keep the money within that region. We raised over $16,000 at the Arizona outing and we have eight kids on the (waiting) list. That will go a long way in helping at least half of those kids,” Williams said.

The ATI Foundation worked with a longstanding partner — Preston’s March for Energy, an organization that provides children access to freedom, fun and exercise — to build Sebastian’s bicycle, Williams added.

“Our foundation pays for the bike and their foundation works with therapists to get the right measurements to get the right adaptations. They even work with families to get the color choice of the child,” Williams said. “It’s a great partnership.

Fleming said he enjoyed seeing partners and the community come together to raise awareness for children with physical impairments.

“The event was great. It was very welcoming — from the golfers that attended the golf tournament (to) the people that were hosting. It was just open arms and smiles everywhere, understanding and supporting Sebastian and his disabilities,” he said.

Because Sebastian has balance and leg-strength complications, it is difficult for him to ride traditional bicycles. But with his customized adaptive bicycle, Fleming said Sebastian can now play and participate in activities with other kids. “Now, he can go ride bikes with his nieces and nephews.”

Making impacts in the lives of children like Sebastian, who at one point in his life was not expected to walk but now rides a bicycle, fulfills ATI Foundation’s goal, Williams said.

“When we help a child and a family, it’s making an immediate day-to-day impact. That’s what we’re most proud of,” he said.

“We know we’ve made that immediate impact on Sebastian, and we wish him lots of fun on the bike.”