Early last week, my sweet friend Deb (also a special needs mother) sent me a link on Facebook for The Great Bike Giveaway. It’s a program run by Friendship Circle and they hold an annual contest giving away adaptive bikes to special needs children and young adults like Hallee.
I started looking at these bikes years ago for Hallee, but they pretty much cost the KBB value of my car. Really. In case you’re wondering, an adaptive bike is a bike that’s built for people with special needs. Some have two wheels, some have 3. Some have seats with back and arm rests..it just depends on the ability (not disability, thankyouverymuch) of the rider. The Great Bike Giveaway had 8 different kinds of bikes in the contest and people could donate money to buy even more bikes to be given away. I saw the perfect bike for Hallee..the Flagstaff and even though the contest had started two weeks earlier, I signed her up thinking, “Well, it can’t hurt to try”.
The contest ran from March 3rd to March 25th and we signed up around the 16th. For sure a late start, especially considering that some of the kids already had thousands of votes. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? There are two ways to win one of the bikes that best fit your child’s needs. One will be won by the most nominations, the others will be won by raffle. I figured if I hounded my family and FB friends, Hal would get a couple hundred nominations. I don’t mind saying that I was wrong
just this once. I was really, really wrong. And it was amazing.
I asked my family. They shared Hallee’s nomination page. My parents, siblings, cousins, aunts. I asked my friends. Fellow BDN blogger and AM (autism mom) Heather wrote about the contest on her blog, The A-Word. She signed her sweetheart son up for the contest, too. It got shared and shared and shared again. The numbers went from 100 to 200, to 300, 500, 700..I couldn’t believe it. All of these people willing to help give Hal and kids like her a chance at a little bit of a normal childhood. I’m not gonna lie, y’all. I cried more than once. Verklempt.
Last night with just a handful of hours left in the contest, we were stuck pretty solidly at 790, had been there for a couple of days. I had
stalked and probably frightened all of the friends and family that I had into nominating Hal already. And then, I went back to a certain group of ladies. I call them my Irish Mommies. They’re a group of ladies in an online support group for mother’s of kids with autism. Most are from Ireland, lots in the UK and even a few of us Yanks. I don’t even remember now how I found them, but they are my go-to girls. My light in the dark, my hands to hold when things in the wobbly, disjointed world of autism get to be a bit too much for me. Friends, not just online names that I’m familar with. Friends. I know their kid’s names, husbands, partners, hobbies, loves and dislikes and they know mine. Nothing is too gross for them, to embarrassing, too heartbreaking. We share it all and I adore these women, each and every one for the support I’ve gotten from them when I didn’t feel like I could ask for it from anyone else. *Sniffle*
Anyhoo, last night I asked my ladies for a little help, hoping we could break 800 before the contest ended. It was like lightning. “Done.” “Done” “Done” “Done and shared, good luck!” It went on and on and on and by the time I woke up this morning we were well over 900 and finished the contest at 920.
Need something done right? Ask an Autism Mom. We are masters at getting it all done and getting it done RIGHTNOW. I sat here this morning just completely overwhelmed with gratitude. It blew my mind that so many people, many whom have never met Hal nor myself, want her to have one of these bikes. There have been so many times during the years, you guys…so many times that I felt very, very alone in our journey. I have a wonderful, loving family, but they all live away. I have close friends, but they either live away or have families and busy lives of their own. I hated to feel like I was burdening anyone by telling them how hard it could be. How lonely and scary. So I didn’t. Unless you count the handful of times I called my mother or sister crying and just emotionally fried. Hi Mom, Hi Rob..I love you. Thank you.
And it took this contest for me to see that I’m really not alone, really never was. That there’s always someone willing to give a minute of their time, a little bit of their kindness, if you’re willing to ask for it. I wish I had known this back then.
The contest winners will be announced tomorrow and I’m so excited. Not just for Hallee’s chances, but for the many kids that will win and have their lives changed by these bikes given by this wonderful group. As a mother, my heart is so glad for the kids who will win tomorrow. Our kids suffer enough, this little bit of freedom, this little bit of “normal” is a huge blessing for them and I am so grateful.