The latest epidemic hitting the valley is definitely Firebird Fever. Young and old, large and small have all gone crazy for the American Hockey League’s newest team, and our community’s first franchise team, the Coachella Valley Firebirds. Powered by fan enthusiasm, the team returned to the championship circle in their second season for the Calder Cup finals. 

Ryan shows support for his favorite team.

This season, the team’s One Valley Foundation extended a special surprise to two huge fans in partnership with the United Cerebral Palsy of the Inland Empire (UCPIE).  On April 10 as the Firebirds faced the Ontario Reign, two young fans, Ryan and Andres, received the VIP treatment with the opportunity to meet the team and the presentation of two team branded, custom bikes designed especially for their individual needs. 

UCPIE’s Rebecca Rizzo with Ryan, John Sprogis, Andres and dad Adrian

It was a day filled with smiles, laughter and the joy of giving back which brought young people with disabilities, their families and community supporters together for a celebration of inclusivity and generosity. At 22, this was the first time Andres had ever ridden a bike.

All could feel the excitement as participating families arrived at Acrisure Arena and were greeted by the Firebirds’ energetic mascot, Fuego, and many UCPIE volunteers. Ryan and Andres waited in the High Five Tunnel to greet the team as they took the ice for their warmup prior to the game.

“Today, we are not just giving away bikes, we are giving the gift of freedom, independence and joy to these wonderful children,” said UCPIE President John Sprogis on the ice prior to the puck drop. He expressed gratitude to the Firebirds, volunteers and all the supporters who made the day possible while Fuego got the crowd excited in celebration of these two young fans.  Ryan flexed his arms as the crowded cheered before the custom made adaptive bikes were rolled onto the ice towards the awe-struck faces of their recipients.

Custom made by Freedom Concepts for UCPIE, the bikes are specially designed to accommodate various physical disabilities with extra stability, specialized seating and hand controls. Both boys quickly got the hang of pedaling and propelling and their smiles could be felt throughout the arena.

The bike giveaway is part of UCPIE’s broader mission to enhance the lives of individuals with disabilities through various programs and services. This event, in particular, highlights the importance of mobility and the positive impact it has on a child’s development and self-esteem. 

The partnership between UCPIE and the Firebirds is rooted in a shared commitment to inclusivity, supporting individuals with disabilities and fostering a sense of community for all.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with the UCPIE on their Custom Adaptive Bikes initiate,” said Andrew Mason, senior director of community relations for the Coachella Valley Firebirds. “From the initial design, to the build, to seeing Ryan and Andres taking their first ride around the arena, it has been an amazing experience for us all. Giving wings to all our fans in this incredible community is what we are all about!” The foundation looks forward to partnering with UCPIE to give away more bikes next season.

UCPIE’s John Sprogis assists Andres with the very first bike ride of his life.

Other community programs through the foundation include Extinguish Bullying: Fuego’s Anti-Bullying Operation, a kids’ street hockey program with Stand Together, and their K-5 Stick to Reading campaign sponsored by First Bank.                        

Ryan is ready to ride decked out in is Firebirds’ gear.

In addition to the Custom Adaptive Bike initiative, UCPIE offers a diverse range of inclusive programs designed to empower and support those affected within our community. The Afterschool Skill Builder Program provides students with essential life skills through engaging after-school activities. The Adaptive Karate Program is tailored for individuals with varying abilities, promoting physical fitness, discipline and confidence in a supportive environment. Through these initiatives, UCPIE fosters inclusion, skill development and independence for all participants.

UCPIE and the Coachella Valley Firebirds extend their heartfelt thanks to everyone who contributed to the success of the bike giveaway event. From the volunteers who dedicated their time to the donors whose generosity made the adapted bicycles possible, this event was a true success for our community. 

The Custom Adaptive Bike giveaway was more than just an event; it was a celebration of inclusivity, generosity and the belief that every child deserves the chance to experience life’s simple pleasures.

For more information about UCPIE and how you can support their mission, please visit For more on the Firebird’s One Valley Foundation, visit

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