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Recumbent trike helps cancer survivor recover

Associated Press

BETTENDORF, Iowa — Marshall Kruse climbed on the bright red tricycle, slipped his feet into the pedal clips and pushed off for a quick spin around the parking lot of Healthy Habits bicycle shop in Bettendorf.

"How does it feel, buddy?" his father, Dennis Kruse, asked.

"Good," he replied.

For 21-year-old Marshall Kruse, of Cedar Falls, who is recovering from brain damage suffered due to a loss of oxygen that occurred during surgery to remove a cancerous tumor, his test ride on the $800 Sun EZ-3SX recumbent trike was short. But it will go miles toward his convalescence, thanks to the generosity of people who visit each other on the Bike Iowa Yahoo group on the Internet.

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More than a dozen of them pledged money recently to buy the $800 recumbent cycle, in which the rider sits in a supine position with legs extended forward to pedals that are about the same height as the seat. Recumbent cycles come in both two-wheeled and three-wheeled versions, with the trikes being especially suitable for riders with balance or limb disabilities.

Marshall’s parents figured a recumbent trike would add a new dimension to his therapy, but they wondered how they could afford one. In fact, Dennis Kruse, who has worked as a carpenter and machinist, was weighing the cost as he watched his son take a test ride on a red Sun recumbent tricycle last week at a Waterloo bicycle shop.

After helping his son into the family’s van for the ride home, he returned a call to his sister, Kathy Taylor, a bicycling enthusiast who had posted a message with Bike Iowa, seeking help in finding a used recumbent tricycle.

Bruce Grell, the owner of Healthy Habits, saw the message. He rallied others using the Web site to buy the almost-new Sun recumbent trike he was selling on consignment and donate it to the family. He agreed to forgo his commission.

Within 90 minutes, a dozen people had pledged enough money to buy the trike.

The family’s joy was complete when they arrived at Healthy Habits on a recent Sunday afternoon after the 150-mile trip from Cedar Falls. Along with his son, Dennis Kruse’s wife, Mary, and their daughters, Faith, 26, and Leah, 25, also came.

Grell was waiting for them. He fine-tuned the Sun trike and then provided accessories that included a bicycle computer for measuring speed and mileage, pedal clips, helmet and jersey.

Grell said he admired the family’s fortitude in dealing with Kruse’s ordeal.

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"My work was easy," he said.

Someone even had thrown in a $20 pledge to cover the cost of the gasoline the family used on the trip.

Jim Ghys, the store manager, said they’ve been receiving checks and the bike is nearly paid for.

"People were just walking into the store saying here’s money for the trike," he said.

Kruse said he looked forward to getting out on Cedar Falls’ numerous bike trails. A football player at Cedar Falls High School and an avid bicyclist, he won numerous friends at Toad’s Bar and Grill in Cedar Falls, where he had worked his way up from dishwasher to kitchen manager.

He was attending Hawkeye Community College and was ready to transfer to the University of Northern Iowa to major in business when, in 2005, he was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor on his spinal cord at the brainstem.

Since his surgery and subsequent brain damage that left him in a coma for three weeks, he has fought back.

"He has beaten the odds of every prognosis," his sister Leah Kruse said.

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