Ezana Nurkovic has never been able to ride a bicycle on her own, but thanks to a Frankfort police officer, she has a beautiful new set of wheels " that can handle her very special needs.
Seeing it for the first time Saturday at the Walter Todd gymnasium as it came out of its shipping container, Ezana could barely contain her excitement at the blue tricycle.
Ezana, 7, has cerebral palsy, which has affected her since birth, and relies on a wheelchair for mobility.
She spends most of her time in the wheelchair, but is able to walk an hour or an hour and a half behind a walker when she goes to the park with her twin sister, Dina, and her mother, Esada Pajazetovic, who emigrated to the U.S. from Bosnia 11 years ago.
The three frequently go to the Farmer's Market parking lot or Riverview Park, where Dina rides her bike and Ezana and Esada follow behind, with the walker.
But now she'll be riding along with Dina when Esada shuffles them to the park.
When the trio met Frankfort Police Officer Montey Chappell, who was patrolling downtown Frankfort on his horse, Esada doesn't remember much about the meeting.
"We asked to touch the horse," she remembers.
Chappell remembers seeing Dina on a bicycle and Ezana behind a walker - and the twin girls stood out in his mind.
When Chappell showed up at their house Christmas Eve, Esada was stunned to see him again.
"I was like, "Oh my God, what happened?'" Esada told The State Journal Saturday. She said she thought something had happened to one of her older children.
"I didn't want to look at his face, I just stared at the badge," Esada said.
What she didn't know was that Chappell hoped to help find a bicycle that Ezana could ride in spite of her difficulty moving on her own.
Chappell had arranged for a friend, who also has cerebral palsy, to contact the family so he could find out about the girl's needs.
"I saw her on patrol. Everybody said she was a hard worker," Chappell said of Esada who, as a single mother, works hard to help get her daughter to the University of Kentucky and the Shriner's Hospital in Lexington for treatment.
Chappell decided he wanted to find a way for Ezana to ride with her sister and eventually came across the blue Ranger tricycle, built as adaptive equipment for riders with special needs.
The problem, he said, was its $1,400 price tag.
Undaunted, Chappell put in his own contribution to the tricycle and told Lisa Agee, who works as a receptionist at Frankfort City Hall, about the family's needs.
"She was the one that threw gasoline on the fire," Chappell said.
Agee, who is a member of the Frankfort Optimist Club, put the word out to club members who helped Chappell get the rest of the money for Ezana's tricycle.
"If there's ever anyone who deserved it, they deserve it," Chappell said of Esada and her children.
And on the day of its delivery Ezana, Dina and Esada arrived at the Walter Todd gymnasium, which Chappell had arranged to be open for Ezana to test the bike.
Waiting patiently while Chappell, Agee and others extricated the tricycle from its box and adjusted its seat and handlebars, Ezana, a second-grader at Elkhorn Elementary School, was visibly excited.
Once it was ready, her mother helped Ezana move from her wheelchair into the bike's special seat and strapped her Hannah Montana shoes to the pedals.
The going was slow for Ezana at first, as she tenuously pushed the pedals but couldn't quite negotiate their circular motion.
But with a push from her mother, she quickly apprehended the movement and was cycling around the gym in no time, unaided by the tricycle's wagon-tongue-like handle, which can be used to pull it if she gets tired.
She squealed with delight as she started pedaling the tricycle with her own two legs.
Ezana had a small tricycle when she was much younger, her mother says.
"I didn't know they had bikes like this," Esada said.
"That is so cool!" Ezana said, gleefully, her small legs pumping the pedals. "That is so awesome."
"It makes me have a lot of muscles in my body," Ezana told The State Journal. "It's fun!"
The bicycle also has storage, she says, for her favorite toy, a plush, pink Shepherd dog, Pinky.
Riding on her own is something Ezana has wanted " and prayed for " for a long time.
"This is going to be so awesome for her," Esada said.
"She prays a lot and asks God, "Please let me ride a bike one more time," Esada said. "It makes me cry."
Now Ezana can pedal alongside her sister.
And Chappell is working to get a trailer-hitch mounted rack for the tricycle so Esada can transport it easily.
"I told Montey if someone gave me a new car, I wouldn't be happier than with this bike," Esada said. "It's amazing to see her. I was ready to cry."
"Nicest guy I ever met," Esada says of Chappell. "I can't thank him enough, never."
Chappell is humble about helping the family get the tricycle. "I'm not Mother Teresa," Chappell said. "I've been blessed enough that I can pass it on. They're my blessing."
The tricycle never would have made it to Ezana, Chappell said, without help from others.
Chappell thanks Agee, Will Harrod, Marvin Coles, Lt. Elder of the Franklin County Fire Department, Danny Garland, Martin Green, Joe Gatewood, Paul Waters, Sally Nice, Pam Gilbert, Debbie Goins, Dr. Michael Graff, Antioch Church, the Ruritan Club and the Optimist Club.
"You can do something for a person," Chappell said, "But if you do for their children, that's a whole different story."
"In my line of work, you see so much you can't do anything about," Chappell said. "You try to change the things that you can change."