“I’ll never forget seeing Mikey’s face light up the first time he got on that bike and pedaled away laughing,” says Brittany Carothers of her son, Mikey, who has cerebral palsy.
Two years ago, Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare and United Cerebral Palsy of Minnesota (UCP-MN) helped Carothers and her husband purchase an adapted tricycle for Mikey. The features of the bike make it perfect just for him, including fastener straps to hold his body and feet in place, and an assistance handle on the back so that Carothers and her husband can help Mikey ride and stop.
Adapted bikes are costly. But without them, a child who has cerebral palsy might not be as active—or as healthy. That’s why the Carothers family has made it a point every year to participate in Pedal in Place, a charitable event that helps buy bikes for kids who have cerebral palsy and other complex medical conditions.
The fourth annual Pedal in Place stationary bike race benefiting Gillette and UCP-MN takes place on Sunday, Feb. 28. Approximately 30 teams of 10 will be riding to buy adapted bikes for kids who have cerebral palsy and other disabilities.
Mikey’s family rides every year in Pedal in Place as “Team Mikey.” They’ve been the top fundraisers each and every year of the event. One look at active and energetic Mikey, and you can see why they ride.
Biking helps Mikey socialize with his friends, and it’s strengthened his legs and core. “That’s what motivates us to build Team Mikey and ride year after year for Pedal in Place,” says Carothers. She wants to gift this feeling of happiness and accomplishment to another family—to help pay it forward.
Team “Crazy Bikers”
“I’m participating in Pedal in Place because Gillette is sponsoring it,” says Andy Palmquist, “and I have a lot of respect for Gillette as an organization.”
Palmquist, 45, has been a patient at Gillette Lifetime Specialty Healthcare for the past 13 years. Gillette Lifetime Specialty Healthcare serves teens and adults who have conditions that began during childhood and require lifelong specialty care. Many disabilities and complex conditions lead to age-related effects Gillette can address—or even prevent—with proper care and treatment.
Palmquist says he rides for Gillette because of Gillette’s “kindness and caring staff,” but also because “their expertise at treating my cerebral palsy has made my life easier.”
Gillette gave him botulinum toxin injections to help relax the muscles in his right calf, outfitted him with ankle foot orthosis leg braces and assisted him with getting a power wheelchair.
“Gillette has helped me to accomplish things,” says Palmquist.
Team “Just One”
“It doesn’t matter if they’re in a wheelchair or not; our patients connect with the outdoors,” says Todd Dalberg, D.O., a pediatrician and palliative care doctor at Gillette.
“They want to be in the trees and on the grass. They want to have the sun in their eyes, and the wind on their face. That’s what a bike can give them.”
On Pedal in Place race day, Dalberg will ride the entire three-and-a-half hours of the event—all by himself—as team Just One. He’s even considering adding an extra half hour to his ride time so he can hit 80 miles on the bike.
Why so extreme?
“It’s the least I can do,” says Dalberg. “It’s a nod to the patients and the people who work here every day.” Besides, says Dalberg, “I think the more extreme the activity, the more people are apt to donate.”
Biking is a means of meditation for Dalberg. He calls the bike his “therapist”—although he admits his therapist can be a bit of a bully. His Pedal in Place playlist will include Irish music by the bands the Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly. “Whenever I think, ‘This is hard, this is difficult,’ immediately I’ll think of our patients and the challenges they overcome, and I’ll say to myself, ‘Shut up, legs!’”
Dalberg has begun emailing his friends for donations and may event ride in costume if he thinks it could motivate someone to give an extra dollar. “I’ll do all the suffering,” laughs Dalberg. “All you have to do is give me a couple bucks!”
Form a Team or Donate Today
Want to participate in Pedal in Place to benefit Gillette? It’s not too late! Form a Pedal in Place team, or donate to a team today.