Get Ready To Be Inspired By Derek!
Derek is a very special young man from Philip, SD (80 miles from STRIDERville). He has inspired many in his community, in partictular his 3rd grade teacher. It’s letters like this that inspire us everyday at Strider!
“Derek is a 9 year old boy with cerebral palsy whose heart hasn’t been bound by the limitations of his body. He is a joy and delight to all he meets and spends every waking minute lifting the spirits of those around him. Derek spends each morning standing at the edge of the parking lot, greeting every car as it comes up to the school to drop off a student. He waves hello, smiles, and greets his classmates and schoolmates with a high five, a shout of excitement, a bouncing joyful wave, or a hug. Each afternoon, Derek returns to his spot outside of the school and repeats the process as the children and staff leave for the day. Rain or shine, warm sun or blizzard level winds, Derek assumes his post. If the weather is too severe, Derek stands inside the building to continue his self appointed duties. Walking is sometimes painful for him, but nothing has ever slowed him down and he has yet to find an obstacle that he cannot conquer. Derek’s parents were told there was a possibility he would never walk and now he not only walks, but thanks to Strider, he RIDES A BIKE! This has given him a sense of freedom unlike most other things. Derek learned to ride his bike this year with the help of his classmates and teachers. It was stored in the 3rd grade classroom and it was a symbol of freedom for all who saw it. It leaned against the white board in the front of the room for many months, ridden by Derek at every opportunity. He spent many recesses honing his riding skills in the lunchroom, classroom, and on the playground. The sense of pride everyone at school (and his parents had) the moment Derek learned to ride was overwhelming. Videos taken during this time show him cruising through the gym in the early stages of learning being overjoyed as he experienced a level of independence and “normalcy” he didn’t know existed.
Derek has taught his community and schoolmates that a person’s soul is what creates their beauty. He teaches patience, love and acceptance. Derek’s inner light and selfless love of others has taught our community that beauty is what lies beneath the skin and isn’t formed by the perfection of a person’s body. Derek’s ability to ride a Strider bike is one more huge step in his journey to independence. This one young man, through his true love of life, has changed the lives of everyone who knows him. Being able to ride a bike has only strengthened Derek’s ability to be an ambassador for those who have been labeled “disabled”. Like the Strider Bike Company, the true outcome of Derek’s dedication to others is that he has shown his friends how to open their hearts and minds to what others have to give. His friends and classmates have learned to look past the world’s definition of “normalcy” and he has shown them that everyone is worthy of love. He’s started a ripple effect that will carry on through all whose lives he touches….a ripple that is creating a tidal wave of hope and understanding, a ripple effect that now moves a little faster and a little freer thanks to a lime green two-wheeler Strider bike.”