Matthew was born on December 21, 2006. At six months of age, we noticed Matthew was not developing physical skills at a typical rate. Our pediatrician recommended that we consult with a pediatric neurologist… and so began our journey.
Today our son is an intelligent, witty, ‘regular’ first grader who also has a profound physical disability. The underlying cause of Matthew’s disability is unknown. We call his disability ‘Cerebral Palsy’, which is an umbrella term for a non-progressive, non-contagious movement disorder. In the last six years we have sought out countless doctors, clinics, medical and genetic testing, and a few surgeries. We continue to seek answers and strive to provide the best and appropriate treatment.
His primary means of transportation is in his electric wheelchair. The electric wheelchair has been great for allowing him to keep up and participate with his peers. Other than physical therapy during a scheduled session, Matthew has no opportunity to participate in active exercise and physical fitness.
Last summer, Matthew had an opportunity to ‘test-drive’ an adapted tricycle at the Chicago Abilities Expo. It was awesome to see him mobile of his own ability. He had never been able to ride a bike before, and he could ride the adapted bike! After that experience, we knew we need to get Matthew that bike. Shouldn’t every kid have the opportunity to ride a bike?
However, the huge expense of the adapted bike caused us to catch our breath – we put off purchasing or even thinking about the bike until we could figure out how to pay for it. This winter, Matthew began talking about the bike in earnest – he wanted to go outside and ride in the snow! So, we compiled letters of recommendation from Matthew’s doctors and research supporting the therapeutic benefits of cycling for cerebral palsy and sent it to our insurance for approval. Insurance denied approval, twice on appeal.
We started to feel defeated in our attempts to figure out how to get this bike for Matthew. And then…Cameron Can Foundation to the rescue! Matthew was fitted for the appropriate bike – a bike that could grow with him – and the order placed. Only a few weeks later, The Cameron Can Foundation met us at the bike shop as Matthew rode his new bike out of the store with the biggest smile on his face!
For the next few weeks, Matthew rode his bike everyday! The novelty has not worn off and he continues to show his friends his bike and go bike riding. Truly, this has been a great summer biking around our neighborhood. The Cameron Can Foundation has given Matthew so much more than a bike – independence, exercise and social acceptance, to name a few. We are so grateful for the support. Thank you, Cameron Can Foundation!