Outdoor exercise is great for general fitness and well-being, working on that summer body and getting some sun.

Add to that another reason: supporting a local charity.

The eighth annual Spin Your Wheels fundraiser is scheduled for April 29 at Allegheny RiverTrail Park in Aspinwall. Activities begin at 8:30 a.m. at 285 River Ave.

People can register for four spin classes, five fitness classes — among them kickboxing — a children’s fitness class and an all-abilities dance party.

Spin classes cost $50. Fitness classes are $25, and the children’s class is $5. The dance party is free and presented by Open Up Pittsburgh, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching mindfulness tools through movement and art practices that center around people living with disabilities.

Proceeds benefit Riding for the Handicapped of Western PA, a group that works to assist disabled children through therapeutic horseback riding.

Event organizer Jennifer Evashavik has a personal connection to the charity. Her son, Luke, has been riding in the program for more than a decade. He is nonverbal autistic and has cerebral palsy.

“It’s awesome to see your child enjoying something so much that you know is helping them,” Evashavik said. “There are so many aspects to it that are so good for him. … This is something that all of these individuals want. They want socialization. They want friends. They want recreation.”

Riding program

Riding for the Handicapped Western PA helps at least 75 families a year. It was founded in 1979 by physical therapist Maria Kyne, who was inspired by Olympic equestrian Lis Hartel. Hartel revealed that exercise with a horse helped her to heal following polio, according to the organization’s website.

There are nine therapy horses at the Parkview Riding Stables just outside North Park.

Director T.M. Abbott said participants ride the horses through courses, use various toys and obstacles. They have opportunities to express themselves.

“Once they are on the horse, it’s relaxing. It’s soothing,” she said. “It’s sensory because some kids don’t touch anything — and now they’re willing to pet the horse (and) hold the reins, and it makes them feel good. It makes them in control of something. It’s not a pony ride. It’s physical therapy.”

The program has a waiting list. Volunteers are wanted. They must be at least 14 and able to walk for 45 minutes at a minimum. Call 724-443-4485 for more information about the program.

Back to spinning

Spin Your Wheels raised more than $20,000 last year. At least 200 people attended.

No horses are expected to be at Spin Your Wheels, but Abbott said she plans to attend.

“There’s a lot of enthusiasm there. Jen does a wonderful job,” she said. “We appreciate the donation that they give us. It’s very well organized and coordinated.

Evashavik said the goal is to at least match the $20,00 this month.

“I’m not a professional fundraiser at all. I’m just a mom who knows how to throw a good party,” said Evashavik, a trainer at Alpha Athletics in Blawnox. “We want to make it accessible to everybody.”

Her company is donating the bikes for the spin classes. Other activities at the event include gift basket raffles, hair braiding by cosmetology students from A.W. Beattie Career Center and other wellness opportunities, including chair massages.

Event sponsors include Blink, Local Provisions Market & Cafe, Solevo Wellness, Klavon’s, Mayabee Design & Photography, Dovecote Aspinwall, AirPro Heating & Cooling, Bloom Beauty Parlor and Cornerstone Restaurant & Bar.

More information and registration is available on the Spin Your Wheels Facebook page.

Courtsey of TRIB Live