On Saturday, Steven, Andrew and I participated in the Huntsman 140, a bike ride to fund raise for the Huntsman Center. We tagged along with my sister, Alisa, and her husband's awesome parents who have given so passionately to this cause. Alisa's father-in-law has been riding with a handful of people from Reno, Nevada, to the Huntsman center in Salt Lake--over 660 miles. His dedication made me feel like a bit of a poser. We did the final mile of the ride. Yes, only a mile! In fact, we were the only people who did only a mile--the other 700 riders did at least 25, 50, 75, 140 and even 660 miles. But even so, this was a big thing for us, and here is why.
You must know that Steven has been riding bikes from a very young age. He practically taught himself. Our first home had a large unfinished basement and he rode bikes down there whenever he could. Enter cancer--no more biking. He had to lie low before his surgery to avoid breaking the bones (not to mention he felt terrible.) Then the surgery changed everything and even once he was up and walking, riding a bike felt really difficult because he didn't have the range of motion in his new "knee" like he did in a real one.
We were told he would be able to ride a bike, but for all we tried, it felt really hard. He isn't much of a quitter normally, but every time we tried the bike thing, he gave up in frustration. Some friends we met through this cancer experience were kind enough to give us the right side of a crank shorter for a bike pedal (Garrison lost his left knee). But we've had that for a few years and have put it on several bikes, still with no luck.
Last year at the Huntsman 140, I determined to do all I could to get Steven riding to be able to participate this year. But the year went on, he lacked motivation, and I think I was just worried that he wouldn't be able to do it. Somehow it seemed easier to live with the hope that he could than the knowledge that he couldn't. So I didn't try. (I know--awesome faith here :)). This spring, I was looking at my Facebook feed one day and I saw that Tim was up on his bike. (Tim is Steven's surgery "twin"--they had the same doctor and surgery within a week of each other.) I started to hope that it was possible.
I had already talked to Steven's prosthetist and therapist at Shriners, and both had been really supportive of getting Steven riding. I had an appointment at Shriners set up and I decided to get a bike for Steven before then so I could bring it to the appointment and have them help us figure it all out. We went out shopping for the bike. Andrew was as excited as Steven. I had never bought either of them a new bike. I didn't buy one for Drew yet because I was worried that Steven wouldn't be able to ride and I'd have an extra bike sitting around. So we took it home and Andrew rode it around and Steven looked on longingly. The next day I took it and all the parts I had to Shriners. And then I left it there for them to modify.
A few weeks later at our next appointment, both Eric and Sonya, his prosthetist and therapist, helped get the bike adjusted and taught him how to use the gears and held up the bike to help him balance. They added a pedal with a strap to keep his foot in. After that, it didn't take long at all until he was off. I couldn't help crying out of gratitude for all the help we'd had and out of joy that he would get to ride a bike. And even better was his sheer excitement that he could ride a bike and that he had overcome this seemingly impossible thing.
And that is why only one mile still seems like a very important mile to me. He had only been riding for two weeks and yet he was up ahead of me the whole time (okay, that wasn't too hard to do), but still, he led the way. And next year he will ride longer, I'm sure of that. Now Andrew has a new bike, too, and seeing the two of them ride around the neighborhood is such a happy sight for me.
|Rich Linton in his Reno Riders jersey, Steven and Alisa in their survivor jersys--the rest of us in back.|