Elias has a great new toy! A few months ago, we found out about the Marine Corps League in Troy, NY giving away hand-powered tricycles to children. Apparently they raise funds and give these trikes to 3 lucky children each year. I contacted them right away and after lots of paperwork and phone calls back and forth, they picked Elias to receive the trike! This past weekend, the Marine Corps League was having a state-wide convention and they thought it'd be a good time for us to come and pick up the tricycle. So Elias and I drove to Syracuse (about 1.5 hours drive). I didn't really know what to expect and was surprised at what a big deal they made out of it. Two marines met us out front and showed me where to park then ushered me into the conference area. They called out for everyone to make room for us as we walked down the crowded hallway. The next thing I know, double doors swing open, our names are being announced, and 200 people give a standing ovation!
Now, this is TOTALLY Elias' kind of thing and he just ate it up. He took the hands of the marine and walked down the center aisle, just beaming at everyone. His red, shiny trike was at the end of the aisle and he kept saying, "It's my new bike! It's my new bike!" They put him in the seat and got him all buckled in then stepped back. And he started to pedal! He went up and down the center aisle a few times, just giddy with excitement. Because his leg doesn't have a knee, he isn't able to bend his leg and pedal any riding toys. His other friends are just now getting into these toys, and so now Elias has one of his own!
They asked me to speak so I got behind the podium and I almost got choked up. I mean, it's just a tricycle... but this is no ordinary tricycle! And just looking at all these retired marines and how proud they were to give this to Elias meant so much to me. I also couldn't help but think that not too long ago, his Ethiopian family would have never dreamed that Elias would have opportunities like this.
Elias drove his trike all the way out of the hotel, down a ramp and right to the back of the car. He didn't want to get off! On the way home I put down the passenger side visor and adjusted the mirror so that he could see the trike behind him. He kept an eye on it the whole way home!
Here are a few pictures of when he received the trike and then a short video of him learning how to ride it at home (in our neighbor's driveway).