The look on their faces often says it all when children receive a surprise donation of an adaptive tricycle from the nonprofit Share the Voice.

“Their eyes smile,” said Lynda Graham, co-founder and president of the West Babylon-based group. “Many of them are nonverbal, but you can tell a lot from the expression on their faces.”

In 2013, Graham, 39, along with Lori Flavin, 39, a Ronkonkoma resident and board member who is now recipient engagement director for the group, started Share the Voice, which donates tricycles to those who need some special adaptations to safely ride.

On Oct. 1, the group gave away its 76th trike to 3-year-old Emma Herman, at the home of her grandparents John and Cathy Corrigan, in East Williston.

“It was amazing,” said Kathleen Herman, 40, Emma’s mother. “I wasn’t prepared. It was overwhelming for a 3-year-old. But once everybody walked away, she was able to get on it.”

The Velcro straps on the trike’s pedals adjust over Emma’s special shoes and leg braces that help her walk despite her spina bifida, a birth defect that causes incomplete development of the spine, her mother said. “We were told she’d never walk, and a year ago she started walking with braces on her legs,” said Herman, who relocated this past summer with her family from Mineola to Columbus, Ohio, but brings Emma to Columbia University Medical Center for treatment. “She’s steadily increasing her capabilities.”

The family enjoys biking, and now Emma can practice riding independently along with brothers Isaac, 7, and Xavier, 5. “Nate [Emma’s father] and I will still pull Abigail, 1, in the trailer,” Herman said.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Emma is the youngest recipient of a trike from Save the Voice, Graham said, while the oldest recipient was 25. The trikes come in three sizes and can be adjusted as the child grows. They cost an average of $2,773 from Rifton, the supplier Share the Voice uses, but can go as high as $6,000 depending on the manufacturer, model and assistive devices that are needed.

Trikes are donated as money becomes available. Families can submit applications on the group’s website, The funds for Emma’s trike were donated by former recipient Alexandra Spear’s family after its August fundraiser, which garnered more than $20,000 toward the effort to battle tuberous sclerosis. The disease afflicts Spear and causes tumors to grow on her brain, heart and kidneys, leading to significant cognitive and motor-skill impairments, as well as seizures.

Spear, 14, received her trike in June 2015 at her East Meadow home. This fall, her family donated $2,000 from that fundraiser to Save the Voice.

“We wanted to pay it forward,” said Denise Spear, 44, Alexandra’s mother. “It’s a wonderful program.”

Rob Spear, 44, a paramedic for the Nassau County Police Department, said his daughter still uses her trike, although her riding this summer was limited because she had brain surgery. “To be part of this is one of the coolest things ever, to be able to pass this along to someone else,” he said.

Share the Voice also encourages families to “tri-cycle,” or donate their trike back to Save the Voice if their child has outgrown it or no longer uses it, so it can be passed along. “We’ve recycled a couple of trikes so far,” Graham said.

Share the Voice’s plans include expanding its Little Voices outreach program, in which it works with groups of children to raise awareness about disabilities. Graham said she would like to develop a team of volunteers who can make school visits to explain the program. That, in turn, helps spur fundraisers and deters bullying, Graham said.

This semester, a group of students from Hofstra University in Hempstead is evaluating Share the Voice through a program run by 180 Degrees Consulting, which evaluates nonprofit organizations and offers suggestions on how to measure their impact, raise their profile, expand their service area and become more effective fundraisers.

Share the Voices also is considering offering other therapeutic recreational equipment for the home, such as handicapped-accessible backyard swings or adaptive snow sleds. Longer-term, it also would like to add chapters, Graham said, including one in New Jersey, where she and her family now live as the result of a job relocation.

The joy the trikes bring to recipients resonates beyond them. Robert Drew, 66, of Hicksville, a retired caregiver who has made two donations to the group, has decided to make Share the Voice the recipient of a planned giving gift, Graham said.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

“It’s heartwarming to see the reaction” Drew said. “Their eyes light up like there’s no tomorrow. It’s unbelievable how much a difference it can make. And the parents can’t believe somebody they don’t know would donate something like this to their child.”

Another benefactor is Susan Johnson, 67, of West Babylon, who is holding a fundraising dinner to benefit Share the Voice on Nov. 19 from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. at Plattduetsche Park Restaurant in Franklin Square. The proceeds will also benefit the New York Police Department’s scholarship fund. To purchase tickets and for more information, check