Dear Athletes Helping Athletes,
I would really enjoy having a handcycle because I would like to go bike riding with my family
and friends. I love riding the handcycle and I was introducted to them through TAASC. Since I
enjoyed riding the handcycle with TAASC, I will enjoy riding my own. I also feel I'll be able
to use a handcycle for years,
A handcycle will also help me become a better athlete. It will build up strenght in my arms. It
can also build up endurance so I can play longer. This is why I want a handcycle.
April 23, 2004
Our son Samuel is a 10-year old C-7 quadriplegic. He is 4'2", 62 lbs. He has two sisters,
13-year old Sarah and Cassie who is six. Sam is a 5th grader and A student at High Point
Elementary school in Gahanna, Ohio. He has been a 100% mainstreamed student there for five
Samuel was born healthy. When he was 13 months old and we were vacationing with family on
Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, he fell suddenly and catastrophically ill. Physicians
originally suspected bacterial meningitis but ruled this out quickly with a spinal tap. When he
continued to digress, he was shipped to Hasbro Children's Hospital in Providence, RI and
admitted to the Intensive Care Unit there. He appeared unable to move, paralyzed entirely, with
no reflexes and doctors were afraid that his respiratory would come to a complete stop or
because he was so weak and had no gag reflex, he would choke on his own saliva. Later he was
taken to Massachusetts General Hospital, because physicians were so perplexed by his symptoms,
which appeared to be caused by a virus. He was eventually diagnosed with a rare,
post-infectious encephalomyelitis due to an unknown virus.
After two years of hard work, we were informed that the likelihood of his recovery was small
and his current quadriplegia is the result of the illness. His incredible and persistent
personality has led him to accomplish surprising strength, stamina and independence. After 9
years of therapy and two tendon transfer surgeries at the Shriners Philadelphia Hospital (to
provide a gross motor grasp and lateral pinch), he can dress and undress himself, perform his
own transfer's, self-catheterize, walk with forearm crutches for short distances (wearing
orthotics), all despite paralysis from the chest down and no independent finger function.
Sam loves athletics. He has participated in many mainstream as well as adapted athletics over
the years including soccer, swimming, baseball, basketball, kayaking, handcycling, alpine
skiing and most recently sled hockey.
When we arrived in Columbus, Ohio almost five years ago we became members of TAASC, The
Adaptive Adventure Sports Coalition where Sam was introduced to downhill skiing, a sport he has
grown to love. Sam uses a bi-ski and most of the time is tethered during his lesson. These last
two years however, Sam's increased strength and skill has allowed him to experience short,
untethered runs with his instructor. We can see now that he will become an independent skier
with several more years of work, something we had never dreamed possible.
TAASC has developed a sled hockey program since 2001, and Sam has participated from the
beginning. He began with no independent skating skills, requiring a skater behind him pushing
while he participated in puck play. Today he is an independent skater who plays left wing for
the Columbus Jr. Jackets Sled Hockey Team. The team joined forces with the Mighty Cleveland
Barons at the 2004 Windsor Games (first competition) in the novice division winning the bronze
(3rd) medal. He is enthralled with team play and the camaraderie that this type of athletics
has to offer. Sam has the most involved injury on the team and requires his hands to be taped
to the hockey sticks to play, a fact that does not deter him.
Sam plays 4-foot hoops in a recreational league in the Columbus Parks and Recreation program
while incorporating goals in his physical education class at school to raise the height of the
hoop. He hopes to play wheelchair basketball some day but knows that he will have to work
exceptionally hard to be able to reach an official 10-foot hoop with a regulation size ball.
His chest paralysis makes the goal a bit more daunting, but knowing Sam, certainly not
As a family, we all like to ride bikes. We each have our own except for Sam. The only way for
Sam to participate is to attend a clinic with TAASC, which limits his opportunity to weekly
opportunities, if that. While learning to use a handcycle this worked fine - but now that Sam
has become independent he would love to strike out on his with the girls, his neighborhood
buddies, or all together as a family. The activity would also assist him increase his
cardiovascular endurance and upper body strength in a way some of the other activities have not
because of the time between practices or the nature of the activity.
Sam already has a goal of becoming a sports broadcaster. His involvement and successes with
adaptive sports have helped him to understand the importance of a life long active lifestyle,
as well as to maintain and build the self-esteem and confidence required to handle the constant
exposure to mainstream sports at school that he cannot participate in fully the way his non
disabled friends and peers can.
We appreciate the work and generosity of Athletes Helping Athletes and hope you can consider
our request for a handcycle for Sam at this time.
Thanks so much for following up with our family and Sam in regards to the handcycle your
organization so generously provided! As usual, he has come a long way since receiving
Funny, but if you don't grow up riding a bike it takes a while not only to learn all about
what you ride, but quite a bit to learn the nuances of the "sport" as well.
When to turn it on so as to "make the hill," when to use the gears and when to
coast! Last year, Sam needed a push at the crest of most of the hills in our
neighborhood, so I would walk and he would ride. This year that kind of assistance is no
longer necessary, and he can indepenedently handle the neighborhood and surrounding rides!
Very exciting, so now we ride together.
We are moving to North Carolina [from Ohio] in the next 4 months and I suspect he will find
a much longer riding season there. In addition, the Carolina Institute of Rehabilitation
sponsors a ride to the sea that perhaps in time we can participate in.
Once again we would like to thank you all for making this possible. The equipment needs add
up and I'm not sure where a handcycle would have fit in to the picture had you all not stepped
up to the plate. Athletes Helping Athletes made the request and fulfillment so simple, that we
are still overwhelmed by the manner in which it was all handled. Amazing.
Our sincere gratitude - always!