A story of bikes, benevolence, and breaking through barriers

Emily Sutton by Emily Sutton Additional Needs

Emily Sutton

Emily Sutton

I was launched into the world of special needs on New Year's Eve 2012, on the birth of my son, Jenson. He is fabulous, sprightly and loving, and ha...

A story of bikes, benevolence, and breaking through barriers

When Jenson was born, it was all about what he couldn’t do. Doubt was placed on whether he would even walk, and therefore we didn’t allow ourselves to consider the idea of him riding a bike.

We could tell from an early age that Jenson was an energetic and active boy who loved anything with wheels, especially if he was riding in or on it. As the first few months and years went on, we spent a crazy amount of money on ‘ride-on’ vehicles, trying to find ones that worked for his unique needs.

We would be known to push them along with a broom handle because Jenson was unable to propel them with his feet. We had friends even make padded cushions so that he could reach the floor comfortably rather than have his gangly legs all squashed up, because the vehicles were designed for infants much smaller and younger than him.

The day that Jenson first mobilised himself (backwards!) in his Granny’s kitchen on a Mickey Mouse truck will stay with me forever; I think he was about two-and-a-half.

When Daddy randomly came home with an Early Rider balance bike instead of a pint of milk one day when Jenson was about four, I was both bemused and cross.

I had subconsciously programmed myself to have low expectations for key milestones for Jenson, probably to avoid any inevitable disappointment, so the concept of a two-wheeled upright vehicle was unfathomable to me.

Fast forward about six weeks, and Jenson was riding said balance bike, admittedly in a very unstable fashion, but it was a monumental point in time for all of us.

Early Rider, who had been following Jenson’s unorthodox progress on their wonderfully engineered instruments, amazingly gifted Jenson a bespoke, one-of-a-kind balance bike, on his sixth birthday. This meant that he could continue his love of ‘riding’, having out-grown all shop-bought balance bikes due to his age and height.

This act of kindness was one in a series of similar events to unfold in the next few years…..

Two years’ later, Jenson had reconditioned our mindsets that he CAN and WILL achieve what he sets his heart on, and we dared to allow ourselves to believe that Jenson MAY be able to attempt pedals! It blew us away that once again, Early Rider gifted Jenson another customised bike, this one with pedals!

(Single rear disc brake, single-geared belt-chain, crank-set removed, upright handlebars – for those who know bike lingo). Jenson took ownership of that bike on Christmas Day 2020, and took his first solo pedals that same day.

It was an incredible moment for us.

Jenson’s brother, Coby, was four at the time, and starting to develop his own love of riding bikes, in particular BMX biking. He had joined his local BMX club and was learning to ride the track. Jenson delighted in watching his brother tackle the huge jumps and navigate the tight corners. We have made some lovely friends in the BMX community and unbelievably, at the age of ten, Jenson is now riding the whole track independently, much to my horror!

We made friends with a particularly wonderful family through Coby’s BMX career. Sisters Esme and Charlotte are keen and talented BMX riders and perform at a high level at club and regional division. When we have met up outside of BMX, both girls have showed such beautiful kindness, patience and warmth towards Jenson.

Older sister Esme, at age 11, after a brilliant year of competing around the country, had recently been selected to represent the UK in the BMX World Championships in Glasgow. Hearing that Jenson had now outgrown his Early Rider BMX-style bike, Esme approached her mum and dad with absolutely no prompting whatsoever, and suggested that she would like to gift her BMX bike to Jenson. She was certain that it was what she wanted to do and was keen to ‘present’ it to Jenson!

As a bike connoisseur, Esme was well-placed to know that her bike would make a perfect fit for Jenson’s dimensions and needs.

So it came to be, that we all met up again, and Esme and Charlotte surprised Jenson with a new bike! We were all delighted that it was a perfect fit, and Jenson took to his new bike wonderfully. This selfless act has meant that Jenson can continue his love of independent and safe bike riding, while we can continue to enjoy family bike rides together.

Yesterday, our family sat and watched Esme on the TV in the most important day of her life, competing at the World Championships in Glasgow. We were overcome with joy and emotion as we watched her formidable performances in the heats, qualifying for the semi-finals! She made us, her family, and the UK proud as she finished in the top 16 in the world. What a champion!

We are so humbled to be a small part of this fabulous young lady’s journey. To have been gifted a bike by a World BMX rider is incredible but to be able to call this true hero a friend, is even more amazing.

Well done Esme, you are a star. And thank you Early Rider once again for your incredible kindness.

Topics

Other Articles You Might Enjoy ...

No results found