Sunday, June 7, 2009

BORP, Bikes and Bonding

It is no secret that Tuffy and I love to ride our bikes. We each have a regular bike, then we own the big cargo bike:

which lets me carry both kids at once, and then we have a baby seat for Little Monkey and a Trail-a-bike for Rorysaurus:

We biked to Livermore for Easter one year (about 45 miles) and both I and Tuffy used to commute to work by bicycle (we're now close enough that he just walks, and I work at home). So, for us, one of the biggest changes on a day-to-day basis has been having to drive everywhere. Even just heading to our neighborhood Trader Joe's (a little under 2 miles there and back) now has to be done by car if we want Needlenoggin to be able to join us.

Then Tuffy discovered BORP, the Bay Area Outreach and Recreational Program. BORP provides physical activities for people with disabilities, and has power-wheelchair soccer, manual wheelchair basketball and goal-ball for the visually impaired. (Check out the goal-ball video, it is WILD). They also have an adaptive-cycling program that lends bikes and trikes to the disabled. This allows one blind member we've met to hop on a tandem bike with his friend and tool around the bay trail, and lets parents take their severely disabled children, who otherwise would never have been able to experience bicycling, through Berkeley's Aquatic park and on rides by the water. They even have volunteers who organize youth-rides every week for kids with mental disabilities or amputations or cerebral palsy or paralysis. I'm literally brought to tears every time I think about the joy they bring those kids and their families.

BORP also lends handcycles and adaptive tricycles to adult members, and so we took Needlenoggin out to the center, just 2 miles from our home, and had him take a look at the cycles. We weren't sure how he'd react, since he isn't a big fan of the outdoors anymore, and were pleasantly surprised when he loved it. Because of the volunteers at BORP, the five of us were able to go on our first bike ride together, ever.

Since becoming a BORP member, Needlenoggin has lost 30 lbs, gained some strength in his core, and has better balance control. His awareness of his lower limbs has also improved. As importantly, it is exercise he looks forward to, and he tries to get out once a week with Miss Manhattan. However, BORP is only open a few hours a day a few days a week, and getting there between doctor's appointments and hard mornings is sometimes very difficult.

So, we've decided that Needlenoggin needs a trike of his own, and that we need to find a way to give back to this fantastic group. In light of that, we (Tuffy, Needlenoggin and I) are registering for BORP's fundraising Revolution Ride. On Saturday, September 26, Needlenoggin will strap himself into a tricycle adapted for paraplegics, and ride 10 miles to raise money for a great cause. Yes, you read that right, my paralyzed brother is doing a charity bike ride. He knows he'll need to train, and is willing to do so. Tuffy and I will be taking the kids.

We've set up a series of links on the home page of this blog where you can email us or buy merchandise from our cafe press store to help raise the money needed for the registration (we get a third of the selling price). The cafepress items show a bunch of items with designs on them. Those are only examples...every product can be bought with any of the images shown, OR pictures from the ride itself. Just email me if you want something different than shown. Also, we're going to send each sponsor a postcard of Needlenoggin crossing the finish-line, with special thank yous for larger gifts.

So, click on over to the store or donation site, and thank you in advance: