The year James started Grade 3 was pretty rough. In the months before school started, parents started matching kids up from their classes to form little social clubs. Messages were flying around on the school Facebook pages about pool parties and play dates, and all sorts of events to form bonds in the weeks before school.
Being autistic and a little different, James was not invited - or even mentioned - in these messages. No one wanted him in their clique. Predictably, back to school came with tears.
We missed a chance to make the start of grade 3 better for James, but for grade 4 I decided we wouldn't let that happen again. Whatever story those kids had coming back to school, I wanted to make sure James had something to share too. So in July of 2017 I made a deal with him. I told James that whatever he wanted to do as an end of summer adventure, I'd make happen.
James surprised me. He said he wanted to go play at the park. But not just any park... the Giver 150 playground... 450 km from home... in Ottawa... on his bike....
And so, we went.
Along the way we made new friends, got interviewed on national news networks, and gathered $10,000 in donations to Grandview Kids where James is waiting alongside 3,000 other kids for therapies.
Our ride ended at the Giver playground where James spent a glorious day playing, surrounded by kids who were there to support him. We were surprised by friends and family who came to cheer us as we arrived. We met lots of important people, and even got a tweet of congratulations from Prime Minister Trudeau!
In the time since that ride, we've talked about what to do next and where to go. This time we're trying something a little bit the same, but a little bit different.
Our plan for 2018 is to ride our bikes even further! This time we're going all the way to Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York. There we'll eat hot dogs and ride roller coasters. Along the way we're fundraising for Grandview Kids again, and for EJ Autism in New York City.
We're glad you're following along. Maybe if we come to your town, we can even go for a ride with you!