The American Legion Roscoe Enloe Post 5 gave the gift of wheels to a veteran in need Tuesday by providing him with a custom tricycle.
U.S. Marine Corps and Army veteran Scott Sanning, 34, received an AmTryke bicycle, designed to work better with a disability he received from injuries during his service.
Sanning joined the Marine Corps right out of high school; he spent one year, one month and 10 days in the service before being discharged after he was hit by a truck.
Six months later, in May 2006, he joined the Army, where he spent six and a half years. He was stationed at Fort Benning in Georgia, and he spent 15 months deployed in Iraq. In April 2009, he spent six months training as a UAV pilot, before transferring to Fort Hood, Texas, where he stayed until he left the Army in 2011.
The journey to getting Sanning this bike has lasted about a year, Post 5 finance officer Tom Lauer said. The local post was approached by an organization that had the idea of giving bikes to veterans, and wanted Post 5 to donate one to a veteran in need.
The money was put aside, but they hadn't found anyone to give a bike to until Kelly Schilling, a recreational therapist at Harry S. Truman Memorial Veteran's Hospital, connected them with Sanning.
Last fall, Sanning, Schilling and other veterans attended the National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic in San Diego, which is where he first tested the AmTryke. They had a biking day where many variations of bikes were offered for people to try.
AmTryke offers adaptive tricycles and accessories to fit to any disability — everything from hand-peddled trikes, to different types of seats, to leg supports, and more, in a range of sizes to fit children and adults.
The AmTryke Tadpole features a recumbent design, with two forward wheels and one rear wheel. The recumbent seat provides an easier ride for Sanning, who deals with intense back pain due to his injuries.
"Trying to ride on a regular bike, my back kills me within the first half mile to a mile," Sanning said. "With this one, that pain is pretty much gone."
At the sports clinic, Sanning was able to ride more than 20 miles using the trike, with basically no pain.
Sanning has a 30 percent disability, with pain in his back, hips and knees. Doctors have told him the pain won't get better, but being active will help keep it from getting worse.
"The more active I can get, and stay active, the better I'll be," Sanning said. "This (trike) is definitely going to help me prolong my health and my life."
Once the Post knew Sanning and his needs, they knew he was the one to give the tricycle to. The St. Louis chapter of the American Legion ordered the trike, and it was sent to Walts Bicycle & Wilderness, where it was assembled.
Last week, Sanning went to the shop to have the trike specifically fitted to his measurements.
And on Tuesday night, at Post 5's Installation of Officers Ceremony, the organization presented the trike to Sanning. His wife, Kirstin, and their children — 18-year-old Dylan, 12-year-old Madeline, 6-year-old Gloria and 5-year-old Eden — were there to support him.
Continuing a family legacy going back two generations, Sanning's son Dylan will be joining the Marine Corps later this month.
Sanning hopes to use the trike to go on rides along the Katy Trail with his children and his daughter's scouting troop, for which he serves as the Scoutmaster.
"It means a great deal," Sanning said. "I can finally get back to being active and enjoying bike rides with the family."