A chapter of AMBUCS may be coming to Texas A&M in the near future, offering students a new way to help the community.
AMBUCS, a grassroots nonprofit with the mission to “inspire mobility and independence” for the disabled community, has been around since 1922. In the mid-1990s, AMBUCS began making Amtrykes, tricycles that allow those with physical disabilities to move around and stay active. AMBUCS provides trykes free of charge to those in need, as the money is fundraised by local chapters. Several universities nationwide have started chapters of AMBUCS, raising money to build ramps and donate trykes to local physical therapists so they can give them to patients with mobility problems. Area resident Jon Williamson is in the process of starting a chapter at Texas A&M to offer students a new way to give back.
Seeing a great need in the community and a student body filled with people ready to serve, Williamson began to reach out to AMBUCS and students.
“AMBUCS cares about the needs of others and is committed to helping the needs of others,” Williamson said. “That’s why I’m wanting to start a chapter. When I realized the dynamics of this university and all the emphasis that’s put on people being involved and committed to caring about other people, this seemed natural.”
Williamson said in order to start a chapter, a team of student officers needs to apply. From there, the chapter would be founded and gain nonprofit status on both the state and national level. The goal of individual AMBUCS chapters is to raise money, allowing patients to get the trykes free of cost. Additionally, the trykes are custom-fitted, granting mobility to people of all ages.
The original creator of the Amtryke, Gene Allen, Class of 1974 and a former member of AMBUCS’ Longview chapter, made the first bike for a two-year-old girl who couldn’t walk due to spina bifida. Allen said, after the first tryke was made, several people that started to voice a need for the trykes in his community. Eventually, AMBUCS made it part of their mission, and now the trykes are made in a factory in China but still personalized to fit people of all sizes and need.
“It’s humbling beyond belief to think that there are over 30,000 of the trykes since we started building them,” Allen said. “The incredible thing is when the kid gets big enough that the trike is too small, we get them a bigger one and give the little one to a therapist to give to somebody else.”
While a chapter has yet to be formed at A&M, both Williamson and Allen said it is a promising endeavor. Even though A&M has grown significantly since he was a student, the heart for service is still present within the student body, Allen said. Business junior
, said that serving the community in unconventional ways lies at the heart of what it means to be an Aggie and an organization like AMBUCS could impact the community more than people think.
“I believe it’s very beneficial that students are given the opportunity to help provide needed equipment and infrastructure to the disabled community,” Ammons said, in response to hearing about AMBUCS. “ [Students] are able to give back to the community in a way that many people can’t or neglect to, filling a need for service where often times it is ignored.”
To get involved with AMBUCS and to help implement a chapter at Texas A&M, contact Jon Williamson at 979-229-5679 or visit ambucs.org.