I asked her to tell me about Atticus, and this was her reply:
"Atticus is a fraternal twin. He measured small during pregnancy, and I was very closely monitored, but everything looked fine on the numerous ultrasounds. When he was born at 35 weeks, however, it was clear that things were not fine. He needed surfactant, an isolating ventilator, a special probe in his artery to monitor his blood pressure, and other sorts of interventions. His twin, on the other hand, didn't even need oxygen.
"And that's how it began. All told, Atticus spent 108 days of his first year in the hospital, and many other days since. He has been diagnosed with several conditions: two underlying chromosomal issues and then their results, such as polymicrogyria, sensory processing disorder, cortical visual impairment, hypotonia, global developmental delays. He has had several surgeries, including placing a feeding tube through his abdomen into his stomach. He still gets all of his nutrition by his tube.
"But that is not Atticus's story. At one, he learned to roll over. He would roll continuously until he ran into a wall, laughing the whole time. At two, he began tasting things. He surprised us all by preferring sour foods. I make him a key lime pie every birthday now. He learned to crawl at 3, just when his twin was potty training. Atticus loves playing in water more than anything. I spent much of my day making sure he wasn't playing in the toilet! He began pulling to a stand and cruising on furniture last summer, at 3.5. Now, at 4, he is just beginning to use a walker.
"Atticus cannot speak, but he can laugh. He loves motion. I began running, pushing him and his younger brother in a jogging stroller during his twin's preschool class. Atticus loved it. He would kick his legs and laugh hysterically. I trained for a half marathon and pushed him in it, and he was mad at me when he stopped at the finish, wanting to continue. I can never go fast enough or run long enough to please him.
"Atticus's twin is very into biking. Because Atticus is outgrowing the jogging stroller, I have been worried. Atticus has poor vision and doesn't have the cognitive abilities to steer. His twin actually suggested a bike for two last fall, and I just laughed. I have since learned about adaptive bikes for two. They let the child ride in front, and have a safe seat for them. They can help with the pedals or not, depending on ability. And the adult can steer. This is the answer to a dream! But it's an answer we can't afford, which is why we're trying to win it.
"We are trying to win Atticus an adaptive bike-for-two. I could continue to be healthy and he could continue to enjoy family activities. This bike costs over $7,000, so obviously we cannot afford it. Our insurance does not cover bikes as they are not "necessary"...although how many children would agree with that?
"Thank you so much for being willing to hear about Atticus, and to help him."
Reading about Atticus just makes me want to scoop him up in a big hug! And then take him for a bike ride ;)
There is a campaign started by Friendship Circle of Michigan called The Great Bike Giveaway. Basically, the campaign raises money through donations and they try to raise enough to give away adaptive bikes to all sorts of kids with special needs who could use them. There are 600 kids, so that is a lot of (very expensive) bikes--in the case that they don't raise enough money for all 600, they hold a contest where you can vote for someone to receive a bike. (Any extra bikes are given by random drawing).
Voting is a snap! Here is a link to Atticus's page. You don't have to register or anything to place a vote. I asked Marissa if she thought about starting a GoFundMe page for donations directly to their family, and she said her friends started something similar at YouCaring. Here is a link to Atticus's YouCaring page--there, if you'd like, you can make a donation so their family can buy a bike for Atticus.
Reading this story from Marissa really touched my heart! I absolutely love that she pushes Atticus in the jogging stroller, and it made me laugh when she said "I can never go fast enough or run long enough to please him." What an awesome mom to put in that much physical effort to bring joy to her son! I would LOVE to see Atticus get his bike--so aside from making my own donation, I'm posting his story here in case it touches some of you as it has me. The deadline for voting and donations to The Great Bike Giveaway is March 30th. I'll ask Marissa to keep us updated of the outcome!