Written by Lauren Lichtenauer, founder of Christopher’s Promise
It’s hard to believe how quickly time flies. It feels like just yesterday I was beginning the summer as a camp counselor in Maine working with children facing chronic or life-threatening illnesses. That summer would shape my life for the remainder. The lessons, friendships, and memories from that experience not only changed my life – but have since guided my ambitions well into the future. By now, you know Christopher’s story. He is a spunky little guy with the warmest heart and biggest smile I’d ever met. Unfortunately, he was challenged and unable to approach the typical childhood experiences despite his courageous and dedicated heart. I realized there had to be a way to mobilize efforts to serve up some good old childhood memories for these incredibly deserving kiddos.
With this need in mind, I founded Christopher’s Promise, a grassroots effort and collaboration of partners across the country to help provide children facing physical disabilities with adapted bicycles. In three years we have accomplished so much and have rallied partners across the country, including KEEN, to contribute and change the lives of nearly 50 kiddos in Ohio, Virginia, and Rhode Island. We are extremely fortunate for this support, and as an organization are looking for ways to help and do more.
Just a few weeks ago, we were approached by a family with an incredible story. It is my pleasure to introduce, Victoria. Tori is a joyful, sweet and simple girl. She has an older brother by 2 years and a twin brother who came into the world less than an hour earlier. She is surrounded by a family of five who love to be together and do their best to live life to the full, despite the challenges they face on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, Tori’s faced several contests through her adolescence. Victoria was diagnosed with a Stage II Astrocytoma brain tumor at 10 months of age in 2003. She has had extensive medical care and intervention from day one. Through the care and expertise of so many incredible people she’s made it through 3 brain surgeries, 3 shunt surgeries, nearly 2 years of chemotherapy and 33 low dose radiation treatments within the first 3 years of her diagnosis. This past March (2014) she underwent her 4th craniotomy to resect 2 more small tumors. The biopsy came back as a Stage III Anaplastic Astrocytoma. Again, she is taking a chemotherapy drug to help stall the growth of any remnant cancer cells. All in efforts to rid or slow down the growth of her cancer. Regardless, she has had an incredible quality of life through all of her days thus far and truly looks to enjoy life as traditionally as possible.
As an organization, we recognize the impact a bicycle can have on a kiddo. A set of wheels allows them to be kids, but also helps them to recognize independence and freedom at the simplest level. Many of us take those reminiscences for granted, but our organization does everything possible to harness those memories and express how important they are for all kiddos to experience. As we turn the page on our third year, we ask that you help to support the effort to provide Tori with a bicycle that would allow her to ride with her family and more importantly, encourage her to just be a kid.