Nick King was used to staying behind at home with his mom while the rest of his family was out enjoying the great outdoors.
But that all changed when Nick, who was born with Down syndrome, received an unthinkable gift from Variety-The Children’s Charity.
After encouragement from Nick’s physiotherapist at Carihi, his mom, Allison King, called Variety to inquire about getting a specially-made bicycle for Nick.
What arrived was a $3,600 custom made bike tailored to suite her son’s needs. The bike has wide, flat bike pedals with straps to secure Nick’s feet. There’s also a steering mechanism and a brake at the back of the bike in case he needs a little help getting on course.
“Barb Wager (Nick’s physiotherapist) encouraged me to approach Variety because she thought it could be something he could benefit from and absolutely he has,” Allison says. “He’s had it one year but he’s still getting used to it. He prefers to look around at the scenery instead of where he’s going but his muscles are getting stronger from the pedalling.”
Now the family wants to give back to Variety for its generosity.
The Kings were asked by Variety a few months ago if Nick would like to be one of the charity’s Coin Kids. As a Coin Kid, Nick is raising money in Campbell River to support Variety which helps children with special needs. White cardboard boxes have already been distributed at Superstore, Mac’s on Alder Street, Dairy Queen, Hair Squared in Discovery Harbour mall, Ocean Grove Esso, Carihi, and at the Shell gas station at the Island Highway and Erickson.
The family has set a goal of fundraising $3,600 – the cost of the bike.
“I just jumped at the chance,” Allison says. “What a great way to give back. They gave us such a great gift, we had to help. We knew it was something we had to do. He has a bike. Everyone needs a bike.”
Nick, 15, is a healthy tenth grader in his first year at Carihi. He attends the school’s Skills for Life program which focuses on preparing students with an array of disabilities for life beyond the childhood home. Nick has no speech and uses a talking board to communicate.
“He touches the picture to show what he wants,” she says. “He knows to go in there and how to manoeuvre to get what he wants. He understands what you tell him, there’s no doubt in my mind.”
He’s also up on all the latest music, and he knows how to get his favourite songs off of YouTube onto his ipod.
“He likes Bon Jovi, he likes Lady Gaga, that party rock anthem stuff,” Allison says. “He can find it all (online). He knows how to get on there and find all the top songs.”
He’s also a huge Vancouver Canucks fan and has even made it to Vancouver to take in a couple of games with his dad.
“He’s a fun guy, he’s a lot of fun to be around,” Allison says. “He’s very happy.”
But he struggles with low muscle tone. His mom says it takes him “a long time to get from point A to point B” which is what makes his custom bike from Variety such a blessing.
“He has low gross motor in his legs,” Allison says. “My husband and daughter would go out and do their thing on the weekend and me and Nick would stay home because we couldn’t go far. Now we’re all out enjoying family time together.”
Allison says she and her husband, Roger, along with their daughter Madison, 10, take Nick out on his bike nearly everyday.
“We’d like to give back and say thank you for such a gift, it’s worth it,” Allison says.
The family will be collecting donations for Variety at the Bank of Montreal on Oct. 12 from 12-2 p.m.
Donations can also be made online through Nick’s website at www.variety.bc.ca/coindrive.htm and then clicking on Nick-Campbell River.