Annie White - Madison, WI
Second-grade teacher Annie White is continually teaching her students to try new things and be brave. The 43-year-old mother of four put her lessons to the test after buying an electric bike and challenging herself to ride in the Trek 100 with her husband. What’s remarkable, is that Annie has only 40% lung capacity and never thought she could ever ride a bike, let alone go the 17 mile distance.
Annie’s Trek Verve+ eBike has changed her life. Most importantly, giving her the ability to ride with her family and stay active. Exercising is a big challenge when your oxygen input is minimal. She shares with us how some of the limitations we face, are the ones we put on ourselves.
You are such an excellent teacher for people with a disability or illness. What has been your personal journey?
I had severe, uncontrolled asthma as a child which did incredible damage to my lungs, leaving me facing death three different times. Doctors told me that physical activity, including gym classes and sports should be avoided. Living like a sick person was not something I was willing to accept. I was determined to be a person who pushed myself physically, yet realistically, I had to know my limits. I would always find a way to be involved, but it was never at the same participation level as my friends.
Brian (my husband) and the kids are active bikers. Watching them bike to parks, while I reluctantly stayed at home was pretty typical; keeping up was just too difficult. Sitting on the sidelines was hard, but when your lungs are so compromised, even talking can be exercise. Biking and running quickly became too unpredictable. I kept searching for a solution so we could enjoy doing things together as a family.
How did you decide that biking and an electric bike was right for you?
Last year, we bought my 14-year-old daughter Abby a new Trek bike from your Middleton store. She loves it so much that we decided to head to your annual April Bike Expo to buy my son Parker a new bike too. Brian and the kids convinced me to test ride an electric bike while we were there. My entire family was cheering as I went around the loop for the first time with a big smile on my face. I got off the eBike after several laps and was so overcome with emotion, I cried. I could breathe, and enjoy this. We bought the eBike.
To be active again is life-changing at every level. I go everywhere now on my eBike with Brian, the kids, and my friends. I have never been able to feel like this before because I couldn’t sustain exercise. The sense of freedom and inclusion I feel now is fantastic.
Where are you biking since you’ve owned your eBike?
I am riding everywhere. We are actually planning our day around riding whether it’s to the coffee shop or on the trails. I really enjoy riding around the neighborhood with our 3 oldest kids. I’ve been able to ride with Brian and we take our 3-year-old in the bike trailer. She loves it! We live next to a beautiful trail called the Pheasant Branch Conservancy. Until my eBike, I had never been through there. The trail is peaceful and the views are gorgeous.
I could never have imagined riding in the Trek 100 (the annual MACC fund bike event) with my husband whose ridden the event every year. His father has a team consisting of family and coworkers; they ride every year. I had so much fun being a part of the experience, that we’re now signing up for the Brewer hitting 4 the Cycle bike ride in August. I think I’m hooked!
You have so many lessons to teach us all. How has your biking impacted your classroom teaching?
I talk to my second graders about being brave when facing some tough life experiences. I want to teach them that trying new things is how we grow. I want them to believe that they can persevere through even the most challenging hardships. Everyone can reach their goals with a little bit of creativity. Now, I use my story about bike riding and trying the eBike to motivate them to overcome their own struggles.
What would you say to people about electric bikes?
Some people say eBikes are cheating. I have used a wheelchair several times throughout my life because my oxygen level dropped to the point that I could not walk. You would never tell someone in a wheelchair that they are cheating. Why would anyone think it’s okay to say it to someone using an ebike? Using an eBike supports inclusion of everyone; regardless of ability. Exercise was never an option before. Now I’m riding the Trek 100 with my husband. I’m just so thankful for my eBike!