He did it! In 5 days’ time, Mike learned to ride a 2 wheeler. Not only that, he came home with a certificate, a gold medal and a new Schwinn bike! Quite a week for Mike!
I really have to hand it to the wonderful folks at Lose The Training Wheels for giving Mike the encouragement and tools he needed to have a successful week. Also to his brother Nick, who served as his ‘spotter’ running alongside him as he rode his bike.
I wrote about Lose The Training Wheels last week when Mike started his camp. To top off the week by winning a bike was just the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae. He was so proud of his accomplishment, which only mirrored our pride in him. My worries about Mike not doing well with a 26″ bike were unwarranted; now it will go to Nick as sort of a ‘thank you’ gift. I can’t wait for the next beautiful day to hit the road with the family. Thank you Lose The Training Wheels!
One of the few things that Mike has not yet been able to master is riding a 2-wheeled bike. He has been understandably derailed, more often than not, by his fear of falling and scraping his hands and knees. He has ridden behind me on a tandem trike (just like a tandem bike that attaches to my mountain bike, but with 2 wheels on his end instead of 1) many times. We had asked his school to help him with this but they only got as far as him riding an adult trike (the famous ‘blue bike’), which he enjoyed, and rode at every opportunity during gym class. I managed to find him his own ‘blue bike’ in decent condition from a Craigslist posting about 2 years ago, but now it’s time to tackle that 2-wheeler.
Today Mike is starting at Lose The Training Wheels camp; a week-long camp for children with disabilities with the goal of mastering, to some degree, riding a 2-wheeler. Along with learning how to build their confidence, they want to instill a sense of fun, which is what bike riding is all about; instead of mastering an academic or domestic skill, they want riders like Mike to want to hop on a bike and spend some time with family and friends. He will also learn about helmet safety and little things like using the bike stand, which can be tough for special needs kids at times. I wish we knew about this years ago!
I’m psyched about this possibility and I wish I could be there to see him succeed; but I’m sure my wife will send me pics and videos while I’m at work. My only trepidation is that I hope the bike I picked out for him is a good one; I got him a 26″ Schwinn Hurricane single speed cruiser bike in black and red, but I wonder if a 24″ would have been a better choice. He fits on both, but projecting forward, he will outgrow the 24″ very, very soon and don’t want it to be obsolete.
His brother Nick will be on hand for part of the camp to be his ‘spotter’ so hopefully Mike will have a successful week, and we see more pictures like these. I can’t wait for him to say, “Look Dad, no training wheels!”
With Lemonade, Siblings Earn Bike For Disabled Brother
PRESTON, Idaho — The ability to ride a bike is something many take for granted, but not the Smith siblings.
Dominic, 8, and Paisley, 6, have not been able to ride bikes with their older brother, Seth, for two years. Seth has Fragile X syndrome and autism, which prevents him from enjoying some of the activities that are rights of passage for most children.
Saddened by their brother’s inability to participate in one of their favorite pastimes, Dominic and Paisley sprung into action. They first asked their mother, Laci Smith, if they could sell their toys to raise money for a bike for Seth that would allow him to ride again. Most of the bikes that Seth would have been able to use cost more than $1,000, and the two were excited to get started.
“I told them they didn’t need to sell their toys, but they wanted to do something,” Laci said. “The lemonade stand was Paisley’s idea.”
A lemonade stand, to earn a bike for their brother. Fifty cents a cup meant it would take a lot of lemonade to buy a bike, and Laci only expected friends and family to show up to the event. But the Preston, Idaho, community, and even some Utahns, were ready to unite behind the children’s cause.
I told them they didn’t need to sell their toys, but they wanted to do something.
“The response was just overwhelming,” Laci said. “People came from Cache Valley, and we had people come from as far as Brigham City.They would tell the kids how what they were doing touched them: that they would put their brothers needs above their wants.”
In all, the kids sold thirteen gallons of lemonade on June 2, enough to deliver some good news to their older brother, who was overwhelmed by what his siblings had done for him.
“He said, ‘Wow, for me?'” Laci said. “You could tell he was kind of getting teary eyed, and I was shocked he understood it that much, but he did. And that’s what made me really emotional too: that he understood that his brother and sister cared about him that much.
The more than 1600 cups of lemonade the siblings sold earned enough to pay for something even better than a bike: a $400 conversion axle kit that converts any bike to a tricycle.
“Seth wanted a regular bike,” Laci said. “He said the other bikes were funny looking. He wanted to look like a normal child riding a bike with his brother — he wants to be as normal as possible.”
“The only thing was, he said it has to be green.”
Laci ordered the conversion kit immediately, and soon, Seth will be riding his green bike with his brother and sister. And for Dominic, it’s just one more way to show the world that his brother is really just like him.
Dominic is the only Smith child who was born without Fragile X syndrome, which he said puts him in some difficult situations. Leading up to the lemonade stand, he made a YouTube video to share his story with the world.
“Sometimes I feel alone because my friends don’t understand what it’s like,” he said, explaining his siblings’ limitations. “People stare at him. Sometimes they whisper. I get frustrated … one kid called my brother the ‘R’ word in front of me.”
But his siblings are no different than anyone else, he said. They just can’t help what their bodies do, sometimes. And he will be there for them, whether to stand up to the bullies or to serve lemonade for hours to earn a bike for his brother.
“They are normal to me,” he said. “I (love) them very much … My parents said I’m special, too. I was sent to my family to protect my siblings. Even if you think they are different from me, I don’t.”