In 2009, my husband and I adopted Tristan, and soon after his adoption we realized his mobility was more limited than other children his age. After many visits to physicians, Tristan was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, and although we were devastated by the news, we were thankful that his condition was considered mild.
As Tristan grew, we soon realized that his CP wasn't going to limit him in anyway. His desire and determination to do as his siblings did was going to keep him motivated and active his own life. He learned to crawl at about 18 months, and with the help of a walker, he began talking his first steps around 2 1/2 years. His smile said it all as he cruised around the house.
We had him on horseback to strengthen his core abdominal muscles and this really helped him with his balance as well. During one of his PT sessions, his therapist introduced him to his first tricycle ride. This experienced propelled us into the hunt for an appropriate bike for him. By this time, his brother and sister were zooming around the yard on their bikes and Tristan would sit and watch them. We had purchased a tricycle for him but it was difficult for him to pedal and he'd lose his balance and fall off often. We knew that he needed something different but we weren't sure what kind of bike that would be. That is, until I started looking on line for bikes for children with CP. I soon discovered there were such bikes available, even for little guys like our Tristan.
Through local contacts, we were put in touch with VT Friends of AMBUCS and we were fortunate enough to learn that an upcoming bike fitting was taking place in Burlington. So one Saturday in May, we loaded all the kids into the van and headed to Burlington. We knew the bikes were quite expensive and we'd probably have to figure out a way to get one for Tristan. Our appointment was one of the last ones, and when the therapists put Tristan on his bike, he immediately started pedaling it around the facility! At that moment, no boy could have been happier! This bike enabled him to stay balanced, and he was securely strapped into its seat. He could reach the pedals and they pedaled easy enough for his weak legs to handle. The handle bars were adjustable and could be position just right for him, and he could grasp the brake with ease. We were excited to see the results of this bike but we also knew he'd have to wait to take it home until we could afford it. But we soon learned that this bike was an outgrown bike (Pay it Forward program bike) and it would be HIS!! The best part, however, was that this bike went FAST! No longer would he be the one who lagged behind. His new bike would allow him to keep pace with his siblings, which gave him more joy than anyone can ever imagine.
Looking at his bike today, the basket is broken and the straps have been removed from his seat, the wooden blocks that were necessary for him to reach the pedals are long gone, and his seat and handlebars have been adjusted multiple times...one would think this bike has been mistreated. But the truth of the matter is, this bike has been LOVED to death. He's spent countless hours riding it in our driveway, and we've even taken it on the road. He's still able to keep up with his siblings but now he's yearning for something a little different. This bike has enabled his confidence to grow, along with his balance and strength. He's ready for the next step, a more traditional bike with larger-than-normal training wheels. At nine, he's ready to take the next step. Perhaps we will even try another big AMTRYKE!
Thank you all for helping my son, Tristan reach goals that we thought might never happen. We will forever be thankful to this wonderful program. You gave Tristan a fabulous gift...the gift of mobility!