A special tricycle purchased for a little girl by her community is at the heart of a special gift to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Four-year-old Presleigh Patterson and her family raised $7,350 by participating in a St. Jude Trike-A-Thon. This would not have been possible if the Marion County, Mississippi, community, where Presleigh lives, had not bought her an adaptive tricycle that allows her to power the bike with her arms.
Presleigh was born with spina bifida, a defect in the spinal cord and bones of the spine, and hydrocephalus, which causes excessive accumulation of fluid in the brain. She’s already had eight surgeries, including five in 2015 that left her in a full body cast, as well as having to learn how to walk again.
Because her legs are too weak to pedal a standard tricycle, Presleigh uses an adaptive tricycle during her physical therapy sessions. And when her grandmother and legal guardian, Rhonda Dykes, posted a photo on social media of Presleigh enjoying her ride on the tricycle at physical therapy, members of the community started sending donations for Presleigh to purchase her own adaptive trike.
A few months later, Dykes learned that The Children’s Center at the University of Southern Mississippi was hosting a St. Jude Trike-A-Thon. The St. Jude Trike-A-Thon is a fun service learning program that teaches trike and riding toy safety, all while giving participants the chance to raise funds for St. Jude. The week-long program concludes with a celebration and trike ride for participants to show their families what they have learned.
Dykes knew this was the way the family could give back for what their community had done for Presleigh.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to never have to go to St. Jude,” Dykes said. “We’ve had our own hospital visits and we have our daily medical issues that we have to deal with, and will for the rest of Presleigh’s life. But, to me, that’s nothing compared to a child who has cancer.”
Because of her experience with Presleigh’s medical history, Dykes was moved by the fact that families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.
Dykes and Presleigh are excited about participating in future St. Jude Trike-A-Thon events.
“It was an honor for us to be able to do this,” Dykes said. “We enjoyed it. We were happy to give back for everyone that has given for us.”