Garth’s Bike

By Jim Hunt

June 20, 2008

Sometimes we take the idea of fun for granted. 

It's easy for us to find time in our busy lives to have fun, but for a kid with disabilities with very few options, a chance for fun is a huge event.

Garth is a special kid. He has Cerebral Palsy, and although he does not function like other children, he enjoys the same things they do. Simple things in life that we take for granted. Music and the laughter of other children brighten his life, but what Garth really loves is riding a bike.

garth_01Garth’s Rifton tricycle is especially designed to help with rehabilitation and exercise by making it fun. We received the bike a week or two before Christmas 2007, and Garth had it under (actually beside!) the tree. He loves it!

One of our family activities is walking in our local neighborhood or going to one of the many lovely parks in the Spokane area. There is a bicycle route that runs through a gorgeous area - the Centennial Trail. While Garth is not really able to participate in a lot of the other sports and activities that most kids like to do, riding his bike outside in the fresh air with his family will be a great activity for him this summer.

We are so grateful for this tricycle and for every one whose financial contribution made this purchase possible. Caring people make our journey so much smoother. Thank you.

Our Journey with Garth

There's something special about Garth - always has been. He brings out the best in people. Somehow he has the ability to touch people's hearts in a way that is hard to describe: it has affected everyone around him. 

Garth Lindsay Hunt was born June 7 of 1990. Garth's brain injury had occurred early in the pregnancy because of a viral infection. My wife Linda had experienced very severe symptoms of vomiting and fever at about her third or fourth month carrying Garth - but we simply attributed that to “the flu.” However, she had contracted a certain virus and though she was over the illness in a week, the virus had begun organ and brain tissue damage to our child.

The only things at the birth to indicate a problem were a lower than optimum Apgar score (Garth had a little trouble catching his breath at first) and his small size with a slightly smaller than average head. He also had a bit of a rash over most of his body but that didn’t seem uncommon with newborns. A week later Linda took him to our pediatrician for a “well baby checkup.” I got a call that Garth was very ill, had serious neurological problems and may not live. I was totally distraught, my mind racing. I experienced waves of fear, guilt, anger, sessions of weeping and pacing.

garth_02I had been jerked by the scruff of my neck into the world of disabilities, and over the next months and years my worldviews on many issues would experience a major overhaul.

We spent the next three months living at the Ronald McDonald house next to Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, AR. We will always be grateful for this pleasant quiet place to go. Until I made a few paychecks, they covered our food, our utilities, and many other amenities. Linda could walk to the hospital each day –virtually across the street –, and I took a bus downtown to a phone sales job, raising money for the Special Olympics.

I gained deep respect for the dedication of the nursing staff who worked tirelessly not only to keep these seriously ill children alive, but gave them affection and validation, made their stay more fun, and distracted them a bit from the horrors of frightful surgeries and chemotherapy –and in many cases a terminal diagnosis.

I became acutely aware of my own mortality, of the frailty of life, of the real meaning of heroism, bravery and what kind of people really make a difference in this crazy world: certainly not the people we usually idolize - the celebrities, the rock stars and actresses and sports figures who pull down six figures or more to keep us entertained.

Rather, I look at the sick children who face uncertain futures and keep a smile and a light heart, at their parents who are willing to forego all their former dreams to help this child, the nurses and staff who hold and caress these helpless hurting babies, and the myriad team of technicians, people doing ongoing medical research, therapists, special equipment engineers, and of course, people who have the capacity and strength to pray with you and for you, and make it possible to go on.

garth_03The trials and expenses we have incurred throughout this journey have been more than the average family can afford, but throughout the years we have managed, with help from many people. We cannot put in words how much we appreciate the help we've had from others, sometimes even strangers.

It is a journey that we will never regret. Be a part of this journey with us, and you will find that it will also affect your life in ways you would not expect.

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