On Monday, we received a note from a mom that we believe truly expresses the pure joy that a therapeutic bike can bring to a child with a disability. Caden and his mom, Mitzi, picked up Caden’s first therapeutic bike at Bikes for Kids 2018 last Saturday, and he is already making big strides because of it.
Read on for Mitzi’s letter to Variety. You might want to have some tissues ready!
I wanted to reach out to express my gratitude for Caden's therapeutic bike and to say thank you for all that you do at Variety. Caden is obsessed with his new bike. Everything about it is perfect. The accommodations are amazing and it is obvious that Variety really took their time to understand what would work best for Caden.
We took him to an empty parking lot yesterday to let him ride around and get the hang of it. He had the biggest smile on his face and was "happy stimming" like crazy!! This is a huge deal for us and Caden. We have tried several bikes and training wheels with Caden for many years and he was always too fearful to ride because the bike never felt steady enough for him. The bikes would wobble, Caden would get scared, and it always ended in tears. So, another bike would be placed in our garage to gather dust.
When we told Caden he was going to get a new bike yesterday, he wasn't very excited because of his past experiences, but that all changed as soon as he sat on his new Variety bike. He moved his body back and forth to see if the bike felt steady to him. Once he realized that it didn't wobble and that he felt safe, he was in love!!
Caden doesn't like physical activities. We have tried it all but he is always the kid in the middle of the field crying and refusing to participate. Outside of swimming (which he loves), he prefers to be inside playing with his iPad. Yesterday was different, though. There were no protests to leave. There were no meltdowns about him not having his iPad. In fact, when we told him that he had five more minutes left of riding, he protested "No, I want to stay longer!". We asked him how much more time he wanted to ride and he said that he wanted to stay FOREVER!!
Once we got home, I assumed that he would want to find his iPad and play on that the rest of the day. Instead, he asked if I would go outside with him to ride his bike in the driveway. So, we went outside and he rode some more!!
Fast forward to this morning...he climbed up into my lap and said, "Mom, I had a dream about yesterday". I said, "What did you dream about?" He then said, "My bike". My jaw almost hit the floor. You see, my son doesn't initiate conversations. He is very good at answering questions, but when it comes to talking in full sentences and having a two-way conversation, he struggles. Many of the things that he says are very rote. For instance, he's learned over time that when someone says hello to him, he should respond with, "Hello. How are you?" We always say that he's great at parroting but they aren't "real conversations". They are mechanical and learned responses. This morning, I had a REAL conversation with my son!! I've waited 9 years for this!!
I have cried several times over the last 24 hours but, for once, they haven't been tears of sadness over my son's diagnosis and his many struggles. They have been tears of joy and hope!! He has finally found happiness in something besides an electronic device.
Words and thanks will never begin to show our true appreciation for the joy that Variety has provided our family with. I know some people may say, "What's the big deal? It's just a bike." BUT it's so much more than that. It's hope for future strides and knowing breakthroughs are possible, it's happiness in watching the excitement on my son's face as he pedals his bike as fast as he can, it's normalcy in a life where (at times) nothing feels normal.