By Shelli Stine
From the end of April, when I learned about the Great Bike Giveaway, until last Thursday when all entries were due, I spent a good deal of time dreaming, scheming, and scrapping ideas in an effort to win my daughter the bike she dares not hope for in an amazing contest that provides “Special Bikes for Special Kids.” The Friendship Circle of Michigan is giving families with children who have special needs (any special needs) this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to receive one of 14 adaptive bikes.
What kind of a contest is it, you ask? Certainly not a bike race for the families of these precious kids… my daughter’s chances of winning would be zero. Maybe it’s an essay contest? Well, at least, there would be some hope of placing. But, no; this is a Facebook
contest. So, I submitted the most creative photo I could think of (with the help of Photoshop and Istockphoto.com) of my sweet little girl and the required 250 characters that describe why she needs an adaptive bike:
Miss Lily is 8. She was born with a neuromuscular disease. Lil has PDD (pervasive developmental disorder), weak muscles, and is nonverbal—she also has epilepsy. Playing outside is hard work for her. But she squeals and claps every time kids pass by on bikes—she wants to go fast, too!
Then, I really got to work! The 14 lucky winners of the contest will have the most Facebook votes by people who “Like” the Friendship Circle of Michigan page.
I started the “Vote for Lily” campaign Monday morning with a new cover photo featuring the contest on my own page and some carefully crafted posts that everyone can view on my page morning, noon, and night:
[My post] PLEASE help my very special little girl win the special bike I could never give her!! “Like” this contest page and then click to VOTE next to Miss Lily’s entry. It’s this week only! The child with the most votes (and a creative photo submission) wins an adaptive bike. If you have lots of FB friends, will you SHARE this with them, too? The more votes the better… A toy that most children enjoy every day would improve my daughter’s life in ways she can’t imagine!
It will take so many votes for my little girl to win the bike that can change her life. And, honestly, it’s heart-wrenching to read about all of the 150 kiddos entered in the contest who deserve and need a special bike. But no matter what the outcome of this contest brings for my little one, my heart is warmed by the way my friends and colleagues and acquaintances, and even friends of friends, have taken time in their busy days to offer a “click” or two of support, and often a word of encouragement, for this special needs family!
That outpouring of kindness will take us many miles farther than any bike could. Since that’s a big part of the Friendship Circle’s mission, I have to believe that the purpose of this contest was more than giving away bikes—it was about creating networks to gather around and cheer-on those among us who need it most.
Shelli Stine lives in Champaign with her husband and daughter.