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Keep it Real Wednesday

October 11, 2023


Today’s blog will be the first of a series. I would like to take us down a journey, year by year, starting with this week in 2018.

First, some background. 

We have been a 3-generational home since 1998.  Our kids eventually grew up and left home, leaving just Wade, myself, and Rosemary.  As our friends became empty nesters, our caregiving journey was just beginning as Rosemary began to lose her independence in her daily life.

In 2018, I was working full-time and trying to balance full-time care for Rosemary. I was failing and Rosemary was experiencing issues with her health, balance, and eyesight and had a few falls.

Prompted by a friend, I attended the Idaho Family Caregiver Conference at Boise State University in February and learned so much about caregiving. I felt empowered to move forward and start my caregiving journey full-time.

And so, it began. I retired at 57 ½ and became a full-time caregiver.

During my first few months I was present in the home with Rosemary and kept her safe and fed, but to be honest, I was really not engaged with her.  I helped with her daily needs but not a lot more than that. I dove into the long list of things to do when I retired. I painted everything I could, starting with the fence in the backyard, then room by room until the interior was painted.

Then I looked at Rosemary on the couch and knew I could do better.  We began taking little adventures in the car for rides. I would keep her wheelchair in the trunk and wheel her around on walks through parks and nature.  

She enjoyed the outings but something was missing.

One day I was scrolling through Facebook and saw a bike with a front passenger seat and frantically showed Wade and said “This is what I need for me and Mom”.  Of course, Wade said to buy it but once we totaled the cost from Europe, it was well over $8,000.

The cost was not feasible but that didn’t stop Wade. He challenged himself to figure out a way to make one himself.

And so, he did.

In August 2018, we presented Wade’s modified makeover cargo bike as a front passenger bike to Rosemary for her 92nd birthday and it changed her life. It brought her more JOY than we ever realized and our adventures started. 

In the fall of 2018, Rosemary was featured on KTVB 7’s Heroes, Now This Daily, Yahoo News, Dearly, and The Steve Harvey Show.  Everyone LOVED the cute sassy little lady on the makeshift passenger bike. Rosemary was becoming quite the sensation and was OVERJOYED to share her story and her bike with everyone.  On the bike, we laughed, she shared stories and we simply enjoyed the present together.

It was life-changing for her.  

All the media attention prompted hundreds of requests for bikes, from all over the country.

After a bit of soul searching and gathering a few friends to help, we decided to form a 100 percent all-volunteer nonprofit in our garage and build the bikes for others.

The first bike was delivered to Cynthia to ride with her father Fred on Christmas Eve in 2018.

And the blessing bike was born.

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