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Family hopes to win bike for special needs teen

Boy, 13, has twin brother; riding bikes together would be 'dream come true'

The Finch family: Jacob, Jeff, Jessica and Caleb (photo provided).
The Finch family: Jacob, Jeff, Jessica and Caleb (photo provided).

PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. – Riding a bicycle is an activity many families may take for granted. But one Putnam County family is gathering community support to help a 13-year-old boy purchase a wheelchair bicycle, so he can ride with his family.

Caleb Finch has cerebral palsy, a brain disorder that makes it difficult for him to communicate or move on his own.

But the Finch family said it doesn't let Caleb's disability get in the way of him having normal teenage experiences.

"It's tough. I'm not going to lie,” Caleb's mother, Jessica Finch said. “He requires a lot of care: special car seats to go places, special strollers to go places, lugging a wheelchair around. He's also tube-fed."

Caleb has a twin brother, Jacob. The boys were born two months early, weighing only a pound apiece.

"I still get emotional when I talk about my children,” Jessica Finch said. “They weren't supposed to be here. They got the worst odds, but here we are 13 years later, and I think they're my miracles."

Caleb has joined in plenty of family activities, including traveling to Key West, cruising down a nature trail and swimming.

“He is a joy. People ask, 'How do you do it?' You know what? I didn't sign up for it. We do it because we love our kid, and anybody in our position would do the same thing,” Jessica Finch said. “We try to include Caleb in just about everything we do."

Now they want Caleb to experience something most adults and children take for granted: riding a bike. But it's been difficult to find a bike that fits his needs.

"With his length, he wouldn't fit in it properly. Most things have to be made special for him. With his head control, I want him to enjoy it, and it's difficult to enjoy things when you're laying on your side all crunched up,” Caleb's dad, Jeff Finch, said.

"The golden question is, 'What's wrong with him?' And my response is, 'There's nothing wrong with him.' He's a normal, typical boy who has a disability, and we don't let his disability stop him from things that he enjoys," Jessica Finch said.

When a friend of the family told the Finches about the Great Bike Giveaway contest, they jumped on it. It's sponsored by the Friendship Circle, and with enough votes, Caleb and his family can be cruising in a Duet wheelchair bicycle.

The bike fits all of his needs, and winning the contest, which ends March 30, would eliminate the burden of paying for an expensive customized bike.

"It would be something that would give him the opportunity to do things that normal, typical children do,” Jessica Finch said. “Riding a bike comes easy for all of us, but to get him to go, it's difficult."

Jessica Finch said she hopes that one day, stem cell research can help children with cerebral palsy. But for now, a new bike would give Caleb hope and put a smile on his face.

"Him being my brother, it means a lot to me,” Jacob Finch said. “I love him so much, even though he doesn't get to do as many things as normal people would do. I will always love him no matter what."

The Finches said riding bikes as a family would be a dream come true.

To help make that dream happen, vote for Caleb on the Friendship Circle website.