Although we’ve made grants to over 600 people with paralysis like me, a couple weeks ago we did something we’d never done before. We surprised a grant recipient with a handcycle at her door Publisher’s Clearing House-style. It was awesome!

Here’s how it happened. We have a few Force 3 handcycles (a mid-level, multi-purpose handcycle) that we have purchased for partnerships that we have started with adaptive sports programs. During our fall grant cycle, a young woman named Bridget applied for a Force 3 handcycle. Because we had an extra in our possession, we immediately thought of surprising her with it. She applied for the exact bike that we had, lived only about 2 hours from our office in Burlington, VT, and had a really compelling story. Plus we had a lot in common: she was injured when she was 19 and has a daughter who was a toddler.

Typically, when we give a grant we send a letter with the letter announcing the award and ask people to take a picture with a sign that we send them that says “Thank You”. They then order the piece of equipment and we pay the vendor directly.

To make the surprise work, we pulled Bridget’s letter from the stack before we sent them all out. We learned later that she saw on Facebook that we had sent letters announcing our awards and assumed she hadn’t been awarded a grant and was really bummed.

Zeke “Facebook stalked” her brother (an MMA fighter, which made Zeke nervous with the whole stalking aspect…) and fiancé and got in touch with them to set it all up. Bridget is a stay-at-home mom of her 2 year-old daughter Tinsley. Her fiancé was really excited and arranged to have her mom say she would take her out to lunch so she looked presentable when we arrived with the camera. It worked great!

For me, it was really fun to see the emotion from Bridget when I told her we were there to give her a handcycle. That is a reaction I never get to see so it was really fun. We spent a couple hours with her getting her set up in the bike, going for a short ride, playing with her daughter and having lunch with them at their house. It was so nice to get to know Bridget, a really incredible young woman. We shared stories of mothering toddlers from a wheelchair and swapped notes about a lot of things.

I hope we can make this something we do each grant cycle, it was an awesome way to interact with members of the #KBFamily!

I have to give a special shout out to Skirack. This is a ski and bike shop that has been a partner of ours for years, they have sponsored the Kelly Brush Ride and provided support for a number of years. When we had this handcycle they donated the time and manpower to assemble it and then provided us with the videographer to film our day with Bridget. If anyone is in the Burlington area and looking for a ski or bike shop, please consider Skirack!

Dylan Update:

About a month ago Zeke cut down a tree in our yard and I brought Dylan outside so we could watch it fall. When it fell across the yard Dylan couldn’t stop saying “Whoa”! Since then Dylan continues to talk about “tree”, followed by “whoa!”, then ask dada for “more”. It is amazing that this has stuck in her mind so well! Apparently she talks about the trees going whoa at daycare a bunch too. We cut down our Christmas tree this weekend as well and she was very excited to see another tree go “whoa”! I can’t imagine that she’ll remember this, but the amount she talks about it I wonder if this will be her first memory. Pretty amazing to see her little mind work! See the video to the right of her talking about the trees.