Nine-year-old Brady Conn has a new bicycle to fit his special needs thanks to strangers who made donations toward the cause.
Brady’s parents recently entered him in a national contest for children with special needs in need of new bikes. In order to win a bike, he was required to get the most online votes. When a story about Brady ran in the Daily Mail, area residents offered to chip in and buy Brady a bike. Bill Nottingham, of Charleston Bicycle Center, agreed to coordinate the effort. When Brady’s family realized enough funds had been collected for a bike, they pulled him out of the contest so another child could win.
The new bike was given to Brady on Thursday afternoon at the bike shop where family, friends and media gathered for the presentation.
With a bright smile, Brady got on the bike with a little help from his mother.
Brady said, “Oh my goodness. Can we go to the park right now? Do we have my water bottle?”
Brady’s old bike was a hand-me-down that he had outgrown. His parents could not afford to purchase one that would fit the needs of their growing child.
His mother, Anna Conn, is a stay-at-home mother. Brady’s dad, Matthew Conn, is director at Chapman Funeral Home.
Brady’s parents adopted him as an infant. He has spina bifida, hydrocephalus, club feet and is developmentally delayed with mental challenges. He has endured many surgeries. Among these have been open heart, back and foot.
Despite his many challenges, he is energetic and has a personality that draws people to him. He is in special needs classes and enjoys the social aspect of school. He loves his church family at Red House United Brethren Independent Church. Members of the congregation have been known to use vans to visit him during hospital stays.
He is one of three children. His brother, 8-year-old Nelson, is also adopted. His sister, Eliana, was born Sept. 7.
Nottingham was able to order a bike for Brady through the shop. Even with a 20 percent discount, the cost was still more than $3,000. Donors, who chose to remain anonymous, began offering funds for the bike after hearing about Brady through newspaper and television stories.
Brady’s bike was made by a company called Freedom Concepts, based in Canada. Geared to meet his specific needs, it has a platform with straps for his shoes, a high back with straps for his waist and chest, and solid rubber wheels so he will not be able to get a flat tire. There is also a push handle so his parents can assist if he becomes tired while riding. Many features are adjustable, including the handlebars.
Meanwhile, a Cannondale bike valued at over $300 was donated by that company for Nelson so the two brothers could ride new bicycles together.
So that Eliana would not be left out, Nottingham threw in a child’s seat with a rack so that this equipment will fit the bikes of either of her parents. Other gifts included helmets and water bottles.
The brothers rode their new bikes on the sidewalk outside of the bike shop as a wide-eyed Eliana observed.
“It’s overwhelming,” Matt Conn said. “It really is. It is an amazing journey. We are excited for Brady and Nelson and overwhelmed by the generosity.”
Wiping away a tear, Anna said, she was awed that people the family did not know would be so kind.
“There are just no words,” she said.
Nottingham was overwhelmed by the generosity of all of the donors. Some called him and some were contacted by him after he was told who might like to help. When he began calling potential donors, he felt a bit apprehensive but also believed “God will help me figure this out.”
His requests were warmly received and people were extremely generous.
“It was an enlightening experience,” he said. “I thought of the influence of the media on people and the good impact it can have.”
Contact writer Charlotte Ferrell Smith at email@example.com or 304-348-1246.