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'Better than Christmas'
GABR a thrill for everyone involved, and a huge help to families
|Faith Bousfield (cover photo) looks forward to
Christmas, but she’s even more excited for an
annual event that her mom says is “better than
Christmas” for Faith.
That’s when she participates in Sanford Health’s annual Great American Bike Race—a huge stationary bike fundraiser that raises money to buy equipment for kids with cerebral palsy and other disabilities.
The 7-year-old Bismarck girl was born two-and-a-half months early and was deprived of oxygen to her brain either before, during or shortly after birth, causing cerebral palsy.
Faith and her family have participated in GABR for the past three years. Last year, their team was called Faith’s Fantastic 10.
Sanford Health's Tracey Lockrem works with Tanner Hansen during a therapy session at Sanford Health Rehabilitation.
Normally an event like GABR— with all the people, loud music and action—would be too much for Faith, but she wouldn’t miss it for the world.
“It’s a little overwhelming for her, but
she actually likes it,” said her mother,
Cari Bousfield. “She loves being there,
even though it’s totally exhausting. It is
the highlight of a lot of these kids’ years.
They say it’s better than Christmas.”
The Bousfield's know the importance of the fundraiser, because GABR funds helped them buy equipment they otherwise could not afford to help Faith in day-to-day activities. Two years ago, GABR bought Faith an adaptive car seat that helps her sit up on her own. Last fall, GABR funded an iPad for Faith because the keyboard-free technology is easier for Faith to use. She also uses the iPad for reading because she has trouble turning book pages.
“GABR funding makes it possible for families to obtain everyday essential items or help pay for portions of therapy services insurance will not cover,” said Dr. Kevin Murphy, a Sanford Health children’s rehabilitation specialist. “These children have unique needs, and GABR dollars help them live more independently.”
Tracey Lockrem, a Sanford Health children’s speech therapist, said Faith was just saying a few words when she began working with her, and now Faith talks nonstop.
“She’s quite a little storyteller and has a vivid imagination,” Lockrem said. “Faith, I have no doubt, will someday be a little writer. She has just the most incredible sense of humor.”
GABR funds also helped 7-year-old Tanner Hansen of Bismarck with
equipment that insurance would not cover. He needed a bed that would
keep him safe at night, and GABR helped pay for a bed with padded side
walls, high sides to keep him from falling out of bed and a specialty mattress
that prevents Tanner from becoming trapped between the mattress and rail. Until he got the bed, Tanner slept in a crib because the family had no other way of keeping him safe at night.
Tanner uses a wheelchair but is making progress with stepping. He doesn’t say words, but he communicates using a combination of sign language and gestures.
Lockrem works with Tanner to help improve his communication, by using switches on his wheelchair tray to convey messages, for example, and play computer games.
Jennifer Hanson, Tanner’s mom, said Tanner has been going to rehab at Sanford Health since he was 4 months old.
“They have been a tremendous help to us,” Jennifer said. “They never give up and keep working and motivating our kids to reach their full potential.”
Lockrem said she and her husband both look forward to the annual GABR fundraiser—where she and her coworkers dress up in costumes. “It’s a kick in the pants,” she said. “And it’s their show. We do it for the kids.”
Click here for more information
on Sanford Health Rehabilitation or call (701) 323-6097.