5-year-old girl born without arms gets a custom-made bike - Omaha.com
Published Monday, April 1, 2013 at 12:30 am / Updated at 9:08 am
5-year-old girl born without arms gets a custom-made bike

COUNCIL BLUFFS –– Grace Day has spent days on the sidelines, watching others maneuver jungle gyms or swings or bicycles. That pain is now alleviated, replaced with a sense of normalcy.

The 5-year-old, born without arms, dreamed of riding a bicycle. Thanks to the work of a dedicated few, now she can.

“This is amazing,” Patricia Day, Grace’s mother, said outside Quaker Steak & Lube, where volunteers presented the family with a custom-made three-wheeled bike controlled by turns of the body.

“Watching her on the bike is just amazing,” she said.

The youngster turned 5 in late February, and, in the run-up to her birthday, aunts and uncles called to ask what she wanted. Grace’s answer each time was, “I want a bike.”

Patricia and husband Greg knew making the wish come true would be difficult, especially given their daughter’s legendary determination. Grace has to try everything once, giving a go to figure out whether or not she’s able.

The youngster pushed and pushed for a bicycle, batting down arguments about her inability to ride a traditional model. Greg and Patricia eventually took her to Toys “R” Us, where they pulled down a bicycle for her to try. The youngster got on but didn’t get far, falling to the ground.

“Heartbreaking,” Patricia said, remembering the scene. “To see that as a mom ...”

They didn’t know at the time, but family members were working to find a bike that would work.

Troy Carman, Patricia’s brother-in-law, works at Griffin Pipe in Council Bluffs with Frank Hansen, a longtime volunteer with the Make-A-Wish foundation. Hansen contacted Steve Batten, owner of True Wheel Bicycle on West Broadway, who began a search for a machine that could accommodate Grace.

Batten came through, as he has in past. The bicycle shop owner helps anyone with special needs he can find their way onto a bike. It’s the reason he’s in the industry.

“That’s my job,” Batten said. “My job is to get people on a human-powered vehicle. Everyone should be able to enjoy riding a bike.”

Batten found the bike – a Trailmate tricycle model – so Hansen approached the Days, who were cautious at first.

“‘There are others out there more in need,’” Hansen recalled Greg saying.

So Hansen and a slew of others raised money on their own, dead set on making Grace happy. That work led to Quaker Steak.

Before her bike arrived, Grace held court inside the restaurant, at the head of a long rectangular table with a dozen family members and friends, elevated above the others in a bar chair. She took occasional bites of her chicken tenders but mostly sat with a grin, wondering when the bicycle would arrive.

But when the moment came she shied away. Outside a throng of onlookers, friends, family and media, watched as Grace saw the bike for the first time. Instead of running toward it she stood still, until Dad picked her up for a ride to the bike.

Once on, though, Grace’s frown morphed into a smile, as she walked the bicycle up and down the sidewalk, family cheering her on.

“This is amazing,” Patricia said for not the first or last time, tears in her eyes.

The Days explained that Grace has adapted well to not having arms. She eats, writes and paints with her feet. She can pick coins up off the ground and even peel stickers – think “Great job!” with a gold star – off the pad.

Every time Mom and Dad offer an accommodation Grace sends them away, choosing to figure out how to do it on her own. They’re currently working on tying shoes, with the initial tie conquered and bunny ears hopefully not far behind.

But there are things she struggles with or can’t do.

Until now Grace’s watched as classmates run around the playground, swinging or climbing on the jungle gym. She’s watched as family members and friends ride bikes, a joy no child should go without. The worst is when cousin Haeley, who Grace calls “sister,” is able to ride but without her best friend.

“Looking at her face saddens me,” Patricia said of seeing her daughter stand and watch. “She just wants to be like the other kids. There are things she can’t do, sometimes she’s left out.

“We want this (bicycle) so much for her.”

Making life as normal as possible for Grace is the whole family’s mission. Carman said when he found out his niece’s birthday request he was determined to make it happen.

Watching the youngster make her way on the bike outside the restaurant, laughing, bumping into the occasional person, brought him joy.

“I hope this is just the beginning for Grace of letting nothing stop her,” Carman said.

There’s a bicycle trail system near the Day homestead in Malvern, one that’s going to have a new rider very soon.

The Days admitted their time indoors will be limited come summer, thanks to a daughter – their youngest, along with Grace’s siblings Nathen, 21, Meghan, 19, Daniel, 11 and Jeremiah, 9 – with increased mobility.

When the commotion died down outside Quaker Steak, with Grace happily gliding along in the bicycle, Greg remembered that day at Toys “R” Us.

“That was a hard moment,” he said, a brief quiver in his voice.

Then the proud father turned his head, his eyes wide, his face beaming.

“This is a lot better moment.”

High school slam poets don't just recite verses, 'they leave their hearts beating on the stage'
Crack ring's leaders join others in prison as a result of Operation Purple Haze
Omahan charged in fatal shooting in Benson neighborhood
High court denies death row appeal of cult leader convicted of murder
State Department moves to delay Keystone XL pipeline decision
Haze in area comes from Kansas, Oklahoma
Man taken into custody in domestic dispute
Omaha judge reprimanded for intervening in peer attorney's DUI case
Intoxicated man with pellet gun climbs billboard's scaffold; is arrested
Police seek public's help in finding an armed man
Saturday forecast opens window for gardening; Easter egg hunts look iffy on Sunday
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
Last day of 2014 Legislature: Praise, passage of a last few bills and more on mountain lions
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
A voice of experience: Ex-gang member helps lead fight against Omaha violence
Church is pressing its case for old Temple Israel site
OPPD board holding public forum, open house May 7
The thrill of the skill: Omaha hosts statewide contest for students of the trades
A recap of what got done — and what didn't — in the 2014 legislative session
When judge asks, Nikko Jenkins says ‘I killed them’
Nancy's Almanac, April 17, 2014: Trees save money
'The war is not over,' Chambers says, but legislative session about is
PAC funded by Senate candidate Ben Sasse's great-uncle releases Shane Osborn attack ad
Teen killed at Gallagher Park was shot in head as he sat in SUV, friend who was wounded says
New UNO center strengthens ties between campus, community
< >
COLUMNISTS »
Breaking Brad: Stuck in a claw machine? You get no Easter candy
I know of one kid in Lincoln who will be receiving a lump of coal from the Easter Bunny, just as soon as he's extricated from that bowling alley claw machine.
Breaking Brad: Mountain lion season's over, but the bunny's fair game!
Thursday was the last day of a Nebraska Legislature session. Before leaving town, legislators passed a bill to hold a lottery to hunt the Easter Bunny.
Breaking Brad: At least my kid never got stuck inside a claw machine
We need a new rule in Lincoln. If your kid is discovered inside the claw machine at a bowling alley, you are forever barred from being nominated for "Mother of the Year."
Breaking Brad: How many MECA board members can we put in a luxury suite?
As a stunt at the Blue Man Group show, MECA board members are going to see how many people they can stuff into one luxury suite.
Kelly: Creighton's McDermotts put good faces on an Omaha tradition
A comical roast Wednesday night in Omaha brought fans of Creighton basketball laughter by the bucketful. This time it was McJokes, not McBuckets, that entertained the Bluejay crowd.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
The Jaipur in Rockbrook Village
Half Off Fine Indian Cuisine & Drinks! $15 for Dinner, or $7 for Lunch
Buy Now
PHOTO GALLERIES »
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
WORLD-HERALD ALERTS »
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »