a.k.a the adaptive trike.
Last summer Sebastian tried out an adaptive bike while attending therapy at Euro-Peds in Michigan. It was awesome. We took to the halls in the basement and he was in pure bicycle heaven. It was also really great exercise for him developing head control and exercising his legs. He was fully supported with his feet attached to the pedals while I was pushing and stearing. Over time, after building up his strength, he’d be able to pedal himself around. We got an estimate for the bike that would suit his needs: $4900! Wowsers, we thought, not sure when that will happen! Definitely not in our budget any time soon. The money we had recently raised in the fundraiser was to go towards equipment like a walker and/supportive seating. The bike seemed like a very distant dream.
I was crushed. Those of us with kids (with disabilities) know the reality of things our kids need that cost a lot of money. Riding a bike is a part of childhood for many kinds growing up. The thought that Sebastian wouldn’t have that right of passage, not because he couldn’t physically do it but because we couldn’t afford it, felt unfair. A bike for nearly $5000?! ‘Why like this?’ Sure, it would last at least 5 years. And yes, it would be custom designed for his needs. But at 2 years old this was not something we could afford to even consider.
Once upon a time, I wanted to take Sebastian on an African Safari for his third birthday. Yes, I know, I dream big. But we were living in Egypt last year and I thought, why not. Then as he continued to grow and it was evident we would need to leave Egypt to get him everything he needed, I put that idea away for some years down the line. After his first bike ride at the therapy center, I had a new dream. A bike for his third birthday! How appropriate is that? Very. Except for the pocketbook.
When we moved to Toronto we received some moving allowance money. About the same time I got an email about a sale Freedom Concepts was having on all of their demo bikes, more than half off, which is a lot when you are talking about thousands of dollars. Fortuitously, also at around the same time I received a few donations which were for Sebastian’s bike. After sharing photos from biking during therapy on FB, a few folks had contacted me with an interest to donate towards a bike fund I hadn’t yet started. I was beyond gracious. With help of a large donation, coupled with some relocation money and a big sale, I decided to go for it. I didn’t know when we’d have the chance to get him a bike at this cost again, so I took a giant leap.
Several months passed before we received the bike, in a box that took up half the size of our front porch. When we opened it up, there were no instructions to piece it together and the harness piece was not attached to the base of the seat. On further inspection we found that the base of the seat was splintered. After contacting the supplier, we were sent another seat and took everything down to the local bike shop to be fixed. The bike stayed there for a couple more months and there was still a piece missing for the harness. The supplier was in town about a month ago and he came over to do one final fix up. Finally it was ready, just in time for Sebastian’s birthday.
Over the course of the saga that was getting the bike fixed, I went back and forth about my decision to get the bike. In my heart I knew that we couldn’t afford it at the time and we really couldn’t afford it now. Even after donations it cost more than the money we had saved for a down payment on a car. But knowing this reinforces my initial reasoning that it could have been years from now if I hadn’t taken the opportunity when presented with one. I know that one of the main driving forces was wanting so badly to give my son an opportunity that many other kids his age have so easily. He had enjoyed it so much last summer. As parents we want to give our children the world.
On Saturday, when I see Sebastian’s smile and hear his laughter from his first bike ride down our street, there will be no doubt in my mind that it was worth it. 100%
Thank you so much to the three families that donated towards Sebastian’s bike. I hope that someday you can meet him and see what an awesome biker he will have become.
Photos in this post are from last summer during his two week session at Euro-Peds. Next week I will be sure to post some recent ones from his birthday weekend. And you better believe his birthday post will arrive sometime tomorrow, after his big party at school. We can’t wait. Papa-Daddy’s got the day off and everything.