It is hard to imagine a more joyful scene of seasonal cheer than the Dec. 12 picture of the smiling Madalyn Pearce on her new tricycle -- and the smiling faces of the Olde English Leathernecks who had collected the money to buy her the special tricycle.
Nine-year-old Madalyn was born with only part of her cerebellum, the part of the brain that affects her balance and motor skills. As a result, she only recently learned to walk without a walker and has difficulty operating a regular bicycle.
The Old English Leathernecks, a group of 57 retired Marines, were inspired to help children get the special tricycles after seeing them awarded to children at a convention last year. They raised more than $1,100 to buy Madalyn the bike.
Marine Corps detachments throughout the state help children get the bikes through a program called HOT Trikes. The tricycles also can be made for children who have to use their hands to pedal.
In Madalyn's case, the three-wheeled construction and safety straps provide stability, and the large size of the tricycle puts her at the same level as other bike riders her age.
When asked how often she plans to rider her new bike, Madalyn replied, "A thousand miles." The payoff for her was obvious.
The payoff for the Marines? That smile.