Dain Wahl is totally Dain, according to his mom, Dawn – and this is nothing short of a miracle.
At five years old, Dain experienced an injury during surgery that resulted in restricted flow of oxygen to his brain. Doctors shared that his prognosis was not good and that even if Dain recovered physically, he would never again have the same personality.
Thankfully, hope sparked when a Gillette provider visited the Wahl family at the hospital where Dain had his surgery and shared how Gillette could support Dain through physical therapy and help process the trauma of his experience.
These days and with the help of Gillette specialists, Dain has made big progress as a nine-year-old with all the character and joy he had prior to his injury.
“At Gillette, we were told that children have enormous capacity to build new pathways in their brains,” says his mom, Dawn. “He continues to do this every day!”
This summer marked a significant turn in Dain’s mobility and dexterity, when he received a bicycle built just for him. This gift was made possible through Gillette’s Adaptive Technology and Sports Fund, in partnership with International Dairy Queen (IDQ), which announced support of the fund with a $100,000 gift in July 2022.
“Gillette Children’s holds a special place in our hearts as the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in our community, and we made this donation to deliver extra joy for the children they care for,” said Becky Felling, vice president of marketing communications in the U.S. at American Dairy Queen Corp. “The Adaptive Technology and Sports Fund provides equipment that goes beyond physical support and gives kids the meaningful experiences of riding a bike, playing games with their friends and making lasting memories through recreational activities. We are proud to dedicate $100,000 to this worthy cause.”
Dain's new bicycle is lower to the ground, allowing Dain to operate the bike comfortably and confidently. The more he rides, the more Dain and his family notice changes in other things he’s able to do.
“Since we got the bike, we see changes in Dain every day,” Dawn says. “It’s impacted his left side immensely. He is reaching for things with his left hand, he started eating and holding a fork with his left hand.”
Dain’s improvements go beyond regaining use of his left hand. He’s also getting a little too fast for mom. On a recent bike ride, Dawn had to ask Dain to slow down a bit as she raced to keep up. His ability to steer straight and his depth perception have also made noticeable improvements.
His improvements are apparent during therapy at Gillette as well. “One day, Lisa (Gillette therapist) did some tests to see how Dain reacts to sounds,” Dawn shared. “We were testing his progress in outpatient therapy. We were all sitting there and suddenly Lisa grabbed a horn and honked it behind Dain’s head. Dain and my husband jumped out of their chairs.”
While this might be a normal reaction for many, Dain’s response had Lisa in tears. She had run the same test months earlier in therapy without any reaction from Dain.
“The happiness, inclusion and joy this fund brings to patients and their families by making adaptive leisure equipment accessible is immeasurable,” said Carrie Berdan, certified therapeutic recreation specialist and certified inclusive fitness trainer at Gillette. “In therapeutic recreation, our role is to help our patients participate in the activities that bring them joy, and many of those activities would not be feasible without costly pieces of equipment that are supported through this fund. We are extremely grateful for donors like International Dairy Queen that help make these patients’ dreams and goals become a reality."
Even as the temperatures drop and the snow flies, Dain has continued biking in his home, where there is space set up for him to ride in the basement. He and his family are grateful for all the bike has brought to them. “We are so grateful for that bike,” Dawn says. “I love watching him pedaling like crazy and hearing him say, ‘Here I go, Mom!’”
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