There is a wonderful organization called Variety Children's Charity. Those wonderful people paired with Blackburn Medical and Highmark Blue Cross to make a whole lot of magic happen. Our local hospital, where Sam works, helped to bring the aforementioned groups together and then reached out to the community to find kids with special needs. Micah was specifically mentioned as well as a few other kids. Doctor's offices sent out letters, the hospital gave each employee one and word was spread. There is an organization that makes adaptive bikes for those with special needs, and with all the wonderful sponsors aforementioned as well as many others, they give those bikes to children with special needs. For free. Kids that can't ride normal bikes well, or ride bikes at all. This is awesome on more levels than I can even begin to describe.
A few weeks back when I posted that photo, the kids were being fitted to custom make a bike for each one of them. There are 7 kids in our town that got bikes today, and 4 more were fitted this week. These bikes are easy to pedal, easy to steer, have seats that are easy to stay in, have 3 very large go-anywhere kind of tires, a handlebar attachment that allows parents to steer from behind if needed (or removed if not), brakes, a large basket in back to hold anything from a picnic lunch to an oxygen tank and so durable that the kids will be able to use them for years and years and a whole lifetime to come. They're adjustable and can grow with the kids, too. Truly, everything has been thought of.
We didn't tell Micah what was going on when we took him to be fitted. He has a hard time with concepts that are not tangible, so we figured we'd just explain things to him as we went that day. He wasn't so sure about the group of people there and kind of wanted to leave that day, right up until he realized that each kid there got a turn riding the demo bike brought in for the kids to try out. Most of the kids had to have help with the steering or pedaling, but Micah took off and biked his way around the gym without any help whatsoever, and when he came back from his lap that boy was grinning so wide it shone brighter than the noonday sun. All the kids were, really. For some of them, it was the very first time they'd ever rode a bike in their lives. We're talking teen aged kids here; not all of them were youngsters.
That's what this program does. It gives freedom and mobility to kids that don't have that luxury like the rest of us do. You can't put a price on freedom. But you can cry as you watch these kids realize that for the first time in their lives they can do something completely normal. They can ride a bike all by themselves. And boy howdy, did I cry. Unashamedly, I let tears fall down both cheeks for an hour this afternoon as 7 kids were presented a bike that belonged just to them. But it was so much more than a bike. They were given independence in the form of 3 wheels and a lot of metal parts.
See that face? That's my boy leading the parade. See the determination on his face? That clearly says, "I'm doing this all by myself!" And we just watched and marveled, because it was an awesome thing. For all the kids. I cried. A lot.
There were a lot of people there for the presentation. Hospital administration and Variety representatives and Blackburn employees and congressmen and parents and grandparents and even the people who made the bikes. Those people, the ones who made the bikes, were my heroes.
This is Micah meeting a congressman.
That congressman had a great time today just like everyone else did. But that congressman was there for the PR just like a lot of people were. It's not a bad thing, just a political thing. A thing that needs to happen. And we very much appreciated that he took time out of his schedule to attend an event like this for our kids. But these people?