Thursday, May 24, 2007

'You've got to live life'

By DOUG HARLOW, Staff Writer

FAIRFIELD -- Nothing is going to stop Yvonne Batson from pedaling for her dreams.
Batson, whose son Brendan was killed in 2001 while training for a bicycling fundraiser for the Make A Wish Foundation of Maine, will herself be biking for the cause again this year.

And she will be doing it this time with a prosthetic leg.

Batson, 47, suffers from a genetic disorder of the nervous system called neurofibromatosis, a disease her son Nathanael, 6, and daughter Corina, 18, also have. In Batson, the disease manifested itself in tumors, which led to the amputation of her right leg last year.

"My faith in God, that's what helps me get though it; it's my faith and the support from my friends and family," Batson said. "Every day is a blessing. I think I believed that before -- especially after Brendan died -- but every day is a gift and a blessing and you've got to live life because you only have one shot."

Batson's prosthetic leg is a computerized model called the C-Leg, distributed locally by Dale Conlin at Central Maine Orthotics & Prosthetics of Waterville. Conlin said it is the same model used by soldiers returning home from Iraq.

"It's a computer-generated leg," Conlin, 48, himself a lower leg amputee and former national and world disabled water-skiing champion. "It allows us to program the knee to respond to her natural gait patterns so we can have her walk and program the knee to match her gait on her natural side."

The knee of the artificial leg comes equipped with a port, much like a digital camera, which then connects to a laptop computer. The leg, which Batson received just before Christmas, is programmed into either the gait mode for walking or the free-swing mode for cycling.

It also allows her to walk downstairs and, most importantly this time of year, to climb on a bicycle and ride for charity.

This year's sixth annual bike ride Pedaling for Dreams is organized in memory of Brendan Batson and his friend Isaiah Desrosiers. It will be held on Saturday, June 2.

The event starts at the Church of the Resurrection, 36 Cool St. in Waterville. There is a 1-mile ride, which Batson said she will do, along with a 6-mile ride and a 26-mile ride.

"The event is a tribute to Brendan and Isaiah, and a fundraiser for the Make A Wish Foundation of Maine," Batson said. "Isaiah had leukemia and wished to go to Walt Disney World. Brendan saw what a powerful impact the wish had on Isaiah and wanted to honor his friend by raising money so other children could have their wishes fulfilled."

Batson said her daughter Corina, a first-year student at the Maine School for Science and Mathematics in Limestone, also was eligible for a wish in 2005.

"Corina's wish to snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef and see kangaroos was magical and restorative for our whole family," she said. "And just this past February, our son Nathanael, who also has a brain tumor, received his wish to pet a dolphin at Discovery Cove in Orlando, Florida."

Both Corina and Nathanael, a student at the Kennebec Montessori School in Fairfield, are legally blind, but both will be in the Pedaling for Dreams next month, their mother said.

All ages and riding abilities are welcome at the Pedaling for Dreams event, Batson said. Adult riders are asked to raise at least $50.

"We're doing this to raise awareness and for people with disabilities -- amputation or whatever -- to say you can still enjoy your life to the fullest," Batson said. "It doesn't have to mean the end of the world."

Doug Harlow -- 861-9244

No comments: