We have 4 young daughters and my younger 2 have disabilities. My 3 year old has been on a feeding tube since she was 5 weeks old, has Sensory Processing Disorder, and was recently diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. My 2 year old has a rare form of Dwarfism and Spina Bifida. Both girls have difficulties with physical activities but desperately desire to keep up with their older sisters (7 & 5).
We have had a rough couple of years in and out of the hospital and facing the daily rollercoaster of needs and emotions within our home. This fall, I hit my breaking point. I was so burnt out and struggling to feel like myself and not just a medical parent and caregiver. My daughter Millie (3) was really struggling to get her tube feeds done because her sensory system was completely unregulated and out of control. The only way I could feed her safely and effectively was to put her in the car and drive around for hours per day just to get her basic nutritional needs met! This was so hard on my other kids. They did NOT want to be in a car all day.
I had seen a random ad for Bunch Bike’s Inclusion and Special Needs program and reached out to learn more. Through many phone calls and connections (and apparently a well written letter to Pacific Source insurance on my part) a local organization called Thrive Central Oregon ended up purchasing the bike for us! It was amazing.
Our Bunch Bike has allowed my daughters to feel included in family biking adventures and has just as importantly provided me and my husband with an outlet for our stress and anxiety. We ride our bike just about every day! When I’m riding with my kids in the Bunch, I feel empowered and confident that I’m providing them with a much needed outdoor break and lots of fun. Millie loves the bunch so much that we have happily traded the car rides for bunch rides and with room for 4 kids, every one is happy to jump into the bike and ride around during her feeds! Our favorite stop: the Central Oregon Corn Dog stand!
It seems that every where we go, people will literally stop their vehicles to ask us about our bike! It’s been a really great opportunity for me to spread awareness about my daughters’ conditions and the WHY behind owning such a unique bike. We live in the very bike-friendly community of Bend, Oregon and with so many families wanting a safe way to be active with their kids, I love that we have become ambassadors for this brand. I’m a true advocate for my daughters and I have used our story to encourage other medical families to find ways to find joy, keep the hope, and have fun amidst their medical journeys. We feel very grateful to have stumbled upon Bunch Bikes!
How did you get into biking?
I wasn’t a “biker” before getting our Bunch Bike. I got the bike for my daughters inclusion, not realizing how life giving biking would be for my mental and physical health.
What kind of biking do you do?
Our Bunch Bike has become our vehicle for commuting to school, parks, dinners out, practices, and just taking in the beautiful mountain sunshine.
How has it improved your mental and physical health?
As a full time caregiver to 2 medically complex kiddos, it can often be challenging to find moments for me. It’s hard to find moments of peace when you are worried about your kids. However, when we are biking, I know my kids are safe and happy, which gives me a moment to relax and find peace in my day.
What advice would you give to other riders?
Find a routine that feels life-giving. Find ways to include your family into your routine and challenge yourself to find your own moment of peace in each day, whether it’s on or off the bike!
Meg lives in beautiful Bend Oregon with her 4 daughters and husband Jordan. When she’s not riding her Bunch Bike, she enjoys hiking, crafting with her kids, and helping other moms find their voices as disability advocates for their children. Connect with Meg on Instagram: @thedawleysbunch
Editor’s note: Bunch Bikes has an amazing “Superhero Inclusion: Disabilities & Special Needs Program” that offers discounts to families who have children or parents with special needs. Find out more at: https://bunchbike.com/pages/special-needs