Posts by Colleen Berlingieri

I am a Mom, Disability Advocate and Entrepreneur. I earned my degree in Recreation Therapy at Mohawk College of Applied Arts & Technology in Ontario Canada. I am the President of Big Harvest Distributing LLC. which owns the FATWHEELS brand as well as several holdings in both the USA & Canada. I am dedicated to empowering individuals with, (& without), disabilities - it is the driving force behind my company & all that I do.

Absolutely Beautiful

This is one of the most heartfelt, encouraging and amazing messages I have ever read. From this Special Needs parent to you, please know that I, and ALL of us here at FATWHEELS ,see you!

I See You

I see you taking your kid to therapy while your friends take their kids to football or ballet.

I see you sneak out of the conversation when all your friends boast about achievements and exam notes.

I see you juggle events and meetings.

I see you sitting on the computer for hours investigating what your child needs.

I see you make a bad face when people complain about what looks like nonsense.

I see you disappear little by little but you keep going beyond for your family.

I see you pull strength from weakness with a force you didn’t even dream you had.

I see you showing respect for teachers, therapists and medical professionals who help your child and help you.

Watching you wake up early in the morning to do it all again after another chaotic night.

I see you when you’re on the edge of the precipice struggling to live.

I know you feel invisible, like no one notices.

But I want you to know that I see you.

I see you push forward always. I see you choose to do everything you can to give your child the best care at home, school, therapy and the doctors.

What you do matters. It’s worth the struggle.

On those days when you wonder if you can make it one more minute, I want you to know I see you.

I want you to know that you are beautiful.

I want you to know it’s worth it. I want you to know that you are not alone. I want you to know that love is the most important thing, and that you are the best at it.

And in those days when you see an improvement, those moments when hard work has its reward, and you can taste success, I’ll see you then too.

And I’m proud of you.

Whatever day today…

…you’re doing it right.

And I see you. ❤

✒ Alethea Mshar

📷 John Walker / Flickr

Wasn’t that spectacular? Tell me what you think?

I am SO happy that we can “see each other” on this Beautiful Ride!

Until next time,


Show Us The Money!

Families that have a child with a disability often have one caregiver that is forced to scale back their participation in the work force.

The Statistics

It was reported recently in an article by Shaun Heasley of Disability Scoop that researchers have found that a significant number of caregivers of children with special needs reduce their work hours or leave jobs altogether. This costs their families an average of $18,000 per year in lost earnings.

The findings come from a study published recently in the journal Pediatrics that is based on an analysis of data from the federal government’s 2016-2017 National Survey of Children’s Health.

The study discovered that nearly 15% of families with children who have chronic health conditions including autism, epilepsy and cerebral palsy have scaled back their participation in the workforce. That figure jumps to more than 40% in families of children with an intellectual disability.

I know this to be true because it is exactly what happened to our family. When my oldest son was small, we had so many medical appointments, therapies, and school meetings that I decided to become a stay-at-home Mom to ensure he got the care and resources that he needed. Fortunately, we were able to live on one salary, but the decision did not come without sacrifices and trade-offs.

In 2013, our family purchased the FATWHEELS brand and we embarked on this amazing journey. The fact that we could supplement our income while also helping other families whose lives have been touched by disability, was a double blessing.

In the past 8 years, this business has really become a family affair. Both of our sons help my husband and I in the warehouse and with any other jobs that need to be done. Today, as I write this blog post, my youngest son is in the other part of the FATWHEELS building painting our supply room😊

We have found a way to make lemonade out of lemons and I know that there are many of you out there that have too. I would love it if you would share with me some of the things that you have done to make up some of that lost income.

And, if you have been able to work outside of the home, tell me how you are doing it!
Who helps you in your caregiving duties? Who are your Tribe? What are your workarounds and secrets?

Did your work status change during the Pandemic?

I hope you take the time to share with me – I would love to have some company on this beautiful ride.

Until next time,


OH Canada!

FATWHEELS is growing!

We have recently finished onboarding a Canadian Distributor – introducing Bow Cycle & Sports of Calgary, Alberta CANADA. Opened in 1957, The store has grown to become one of Canada’s largest and most successful bicycle retailers. Boasting almost all of the industry’s largest names under one roof, Bow Cycle continues to exceed client expectations of customer service and product quality.

We first met the folks at Bow Cycle in 2015 when they contacted us about purchasing some adaptive training wheels for the Calgary Cerebral Palsy Kids and Families adapted bike program. The program matches children with cerebral palsy with a bicycle for a one-year period for $50. When the year’s up, the bike gets recycled to another family and the child can opt for a new bike. It is a program that is near & dear to the hearts of the staff at Bow Cycle.

Since their values align so well with ours, Bow Cycle & Sports was at the top of our list this past year, when were looking to expand into the Canadian marketplace. They really know their stuff and, (like us), they have a passion for helping to ensure that EVERYBODY CAN RIDE.

If you are interested in purchasing a set of FATWHEELS directly from Bow Cycle, please click this link:

I am SO glad that I will now have even more company on this Beautiful Ride!

Until next time,


And the Award Goes To….

1084Why is it that we all lose our minds when there is even a hint of celebrity in our midst?

“Wow! They are filming a movie downtown. Let’s go and see if we can get an autograph!”


 “My cousin’s friend’s girlfriend’s Mom once met John Travolta at an airport when they were on their way to Orlando…..”

Admit it.  You do it too.  There is something about famous people and the lure of celebrity that brings out the superfan in all of us.  Continue reading →

The Traps and Gaps of Special Needs Parenting

Recently, my husband had surgery for prostate cancer. Not to worry. All is well and the procedure was a success. However, the process was grueling. It was a long s-l-o-w recovery filled with pain, exhaustion and pills – and that was just me – he had a hard time too!

During the long weeks of his recovery we watched a lot of TV.  One afternoon a commercial for a cancer drug came on.  It portrayed a woman with metastatic breast cancer going about her daily routine and she didn’t look sick.  The weather was beautiful and she was out at the local farmer’s market buying organic fruits and vegetables.  As she pedaled up to her lovely home with fresh cut flowers and produce in her wicker bike basket, a faithful golden retriever trotted up to greet her.  When the commercial ended, my husband and I looked at each other like, REALLY?  We were in the midst of dealing with a cancer diagnosis and our experience did not look anything like that! Although, in all fairness to the drug company, it did closely resemble the end of the commercial where they listed all of the horrible side effects…

Traps & Gaps Parenting Blog - Copy


Have you ever felt this way in your experience as a special needs parent? Have you ever thought, ‘What a crock!’ I know I have. Let me set the scene. You are bone tired and emotionally exhausted from dealing with your child with <insert condition>.  You pour yourself a cup of coffee, grab your phone and plant yourself on the couch to catch your breath.  You login to social media and instead of feeling refreshed your heart sinks.  Your neighbor’s son, same age as yours, has just gotten an academic achievement award in middle school and you’re still trying to teach yours how to tie his shoes.  Your sister is off on a Disney vacation while your last attempt at a fun family outing resulted in your daughter melting down at McDonalds due to sensory overload.  You are genuinely happy for your friends and family.  They are good people. Supportive. Helpful. Loving. But all you want to do is unfollow their profiles because their ‘perfect’ life is painful to watch.  STOP!  Don’t fall into the comparison trap!

If I have learned anything on this special needs parenting journey it is this:

It is destructive and futile to compare our children to those of their typically developing peers.

That’s it. No other advice on the subject. No anecdotes. No inspirational quotes. Just a heartfelt plea for you to do yourself a favor and STOP! I cannot put it any clearer and I cannot stress it enough. If you can conquer this one temptation your special needs parenting journey will be 100 times easier. It will allow you to relax and enjoy your child for who he or she is.


There is a theory that states that the space between our expectations and our experiences is called the unhappiness gap.  In other words, how we think things should be and how they really are = our level of unhappiness in any particular situation.

So forget the shoulds. Don’t worry about what other people’s children are doing and when. And don’t get fooled by the commercials for shiny happy lives that people broadcast. Like those unrealistic advertisements on TV, the reality of their situation usually doesn’t match the hype.

Life is messy. Parenting is hard. And parenting a child with special needs is even harder. Keep your expectations realistic, accept your reality and remember that NONE of us ever gets away without experiencing some of the nasty side effects of life.

Until next time,


Adaptive Triathlons: A Win-Win-Win For All Involved

Here at FATWHEELS we are all about inclusion.  And that’s why I was so excited when Kelley Newman of Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN., contacted me. Kelley organizes the hospital’s Tri My Best Triathlon. A swim, bike, run event for children of all abilities. This unique buddy program pairs children with and without disabilities to complete a race together as a team, using modifications if necessary.

Kelley said that children can complete the swim portion of the race by being pulled in a raft by their buddy or swimming with a noodle; whereas, the bike portion can be finished on an adaptive bike or by pedaling a standard bike alongside their buddy.  Finally, the run portion of the race can be completed on the athlete’s own two feet or by being pushed in a wheelchair or jogging stroller by their buddy.

The goal of the program is not just physical, but social as well.  Kelley said that she intends to match buddies and athletes of similar ages, in order to encourage peer interaction and help friendships grow.

Kelley is passionate and it’s infectious. “By working as a team, each child learns that winning is not just what happens at the end of the race, but during the journey of getting there together,” she said.

After that statement — I was sold. I loved the concept and was determined to get involved. I mobilized my team and we backed the event wholeheartedly.

The first  Tri My Best Triathlon was held eight years ago in Augusta, GA.  Since then, the concept has grown and this year adaptive triathlons are being organized nationwide. I encourage you to attend one. They are a fabulous way to spend a day as a volunteer, family member, athlete or simply a spectator.

Kelley said:

Everyone should experience a Tri My Best Triathlon.  Athletes, both with and without disabilities, are always proud of their accomplishment. Parents of children with disabilities are usually astounded at the ability of their child to complete a race, and parents of children who are helping as buddies are proud of their child’s efforts to help another child achieve success. Bystanders along the race course and finish line are very moved by the unity and efforts of each buddy team.

I couldn’t have said it any better.

Why not take it one step further and organize your own Tri My Best event? If you are a private therapy clinic enlist your staff and go for it! If you’re a parent, gather family members or special needs parents in your community and make it happen!  Ask a special education teacher or physical therapist if they or some of their colleagues might want to get involved.  Contacting your local children’s hospital or the physical therapy department at a university in your area may also be a good place to start.  To get in touch with others, who have already taken the plunge, here are some contacts:

Kelley Newman
Monroe Carrell Jr. Children’s Hospital (Nashville, TN)

Mary Eckhard
St. Louis Children’s Hospital (St. Louis, MO)

Tender Touch Therapy (Kenosha, WI)

To discuss sponsorships or any equipment needs you may have for FATWHEELS adaptive training wheels, please contact me directly at:

Let’s work together to help this movement continue to spread!

Until next time,


Regain Your Balance with Adult FATWHEELS

Regain your Balance Pic

If you are a senior, you may be helping your grand kids learn how to ride a bike. You watch as they make the transition from training wheels to riding independently. Their journey is not without wobbling, falling, and scraped knees. You help them up with encouraging words, a kiss, and a Band-Aid. Eventually, you witness the pure joy on their face as they finally manage to pedal without training wheels!

Continue reading →

Meet Chris Kennard

Chris Kennard is a 13-year-old from De Pere, Wisconsin. He is a reader, a swimmer, and now with the help of FATWHEELS… a cyclist!

Christmas Morning

A new bike with a set of Large FATWHEELS was waiting for Chris beside the tree on Christmas morning.  His father, Jay Kennard, also purchased a bike stand trainer hoping it  would help Chris develop his pedaling skills.  Jay reports that he had trouble at first, but by adding foot cages to the pedals, Chris can keep his feet straight enough to pedal for 15 minutes at a time. A BIG accomplishment for Chris. Continue reading →