BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — As a special Mother’s Day gift, 97-year-old Doris Stone got to do something she hasn’t been able to do for months – leave her house.
Thanks to her daughter, Nancy Jomantas, Doris took a bicycle-powered ride around her Waterside neighborhood while groups of friends stood outside to cheer for her and wish her well.
“I just think it is wonderful,” said Stone. “I am excited to be outside.”
Since March, when the coronavirus pandemic outbreak sent most Americans into quarantine, Stone has been among the most vulnerable senior population following strict stay-at-home orders, but being inside for the past several months has been difficult for her.
Jomantas made arrangements for the ride in conjunction with Mother’s Day; however, due to a cold forecast, the ride took place a few days early on April 7.
“For 97, my mother is very healthy, and we want to keep her that way,” said Jomantas. “This is something fun she could do to get out and see her neighbors since she has been so cooped up.”
Under normal circumstances, Stone regularly plays Bunco and bridge with her friends in Waterside and is involved in the St. Luke’s Hospital Auxiliary, which organizes fundraising events for the hospital.
“She misses all of those activities, as everybody does. We’re blessed that she is so healthy and hopefully this will be a fun little outing for her,” said Jomantas.
Cycling Without Age Toledo, a group dedicated to providing senior citizens with the opportunity to ride on a bike, hosted the experience. The group works in conjunction with Maumee Valley Adventurers and We Are Traffic to offer free rides to older adults. Cycling Without Age began in Europe in 2012 when founder Ole Kassow began giving bike rides to senior citizens on a bicycle taxi or trishaw, which allowed them to sit comfortably in a bench seat located on the front of the bicycle.
Keith Webb is an instructor for Cycling Without Age Toledo and said that the movement is now in 37 countries including the United States.
“We were the second chapter in the state of Ohio,” he said. “This allows us to give people bike rides who may not be able to take a ride anymore. It’s a mechanism to deal with loneliness and isolation and it is ironic that we have this program to help people get out and we are so restricted to deal with the current COVID-19 situation.”
The program partners regularly with local nursing homes, providing rides for residents to nearby parks and neighborhoods. Webb said that his involvement in the program has provided as much or more joy to him as it does to those he gives the rides to.
“Sometimes ministry works both ways. Sometimes you do something for somebody else and then, low and behold, the blessings go backwards,” he said. “Just the idea to combine something that I already love, cycling, with the opportunity to bring a smile to somebody’s face is wonderful. So far we have never had an unsatisfied customer.”
For more information about Cycling Without Age, visit cyclingwithoutagetoledo.org or call (567) 225-4032.