A group of 100 New Jersey children with special needs will send off a trio of amateur cyclists Sunday by riding alongside for a very short portion of their visitors’ cross-country trek.

Taking place in the city of Livingston, the kickoff event of the seven-week “Bike 4 Friendship” – in which Chabad-Lubavitch rabbinical students Daniel Saul of Pittsburgh, Pa., Zalman Perlman of Los Angeles, and Shmuel Rothstein of Baltimore, Md., will go from coast to coast in a goodwill mission to raise awareness of children with special needs – will see 100 young riders receive their own specially-designed bikes. The gifts will come from Olivia’s Friendship Cycle, a massive bicycle giveaway initially envisioned by 11-year-old Olivia Lefkovits to help all kids enjoy the freedom and fun of bike riding.

According to Rabbi Zalman Grossbaum, executive director of the Friendship Circle of New Jersey, part of an international network of programs that pair teenage volunteers with children with special needs, Lefkovits initiated the event as part of her Bat Mitzvah project.

“What better way to send these young rabbinic students off on a cross-country trip than with kids who will be on bicycles, many for the first time,” commented the rabbi.

Heidi and Keith Lerner’s son Max, 16, who has a rare genetic disorder called 6q Deletion, will be getting one of the custom designed bikes, some of which can cost upwards of $5,000.

“It will be a magical day,” said Heidi Lerner. “This is a bike we couldn’t afford on our own. It’s one of many amazing experiences Friendship Circle has brought into our lives.”

Lerner’s bike, made by Freedom Concepts, a Winnipeg, Manitoba, based company that specializes in custom-made bikes for children and adults with special needs, is a three- wheeler that can hold his weight and allows Max to pedal while his dad steers from behind.

“Now we can spend a day biking as a family without worrying about Max tipping over when we make a turn,” said his mother.

There will be other unusual bikes at the cross-country kick off at the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy, including tandem bikes, semi-recumbent styles, and those made for children as young as one.

“That’s one of the coolest things about the event – that there’s a bike for every kid, no matter what his or her need or circumstance is,” said Jeff Lefkovits.

Saul and his buddies will be riding standard road bikes on their long trek. In order to train for what will be at times a grueling trip amidst unpredictable weather, the trio started training in October. (You can follow the progress of their journey on their blog at the Judaism website Chabad.org by clicking here.)

“We put stationary bikes in our rooms and studied books on training for road trips,” said Saul, who plans to cover between 100 and 120 miles each day. “We’re ready for the rigors of the road.

“And we’ll still engage in our daily routine,” he added. “We’ll get up and pray and study, and then we’ll go out to find people to share the message of the Friendship Circle.”