Boy with cerebral palsy receives bike in special parade

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ABERDEEN – A 10-year-old boy with cerebral palsy is now the coolest kid on his block.

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of permanent movement disorders that appear in early childhood.

On April 20, members of the NJ State Elks Motorcycle Committee, along with emergency responders and members of Keyport Matawan Elks Lodge, hand-delivered Jacob, 10, a bicycle he won after recording 179,000 online votes in a nationwide contest.

After years of unsuccessfully entering to win the Van Raam EasyRider, Jr. bicycle in the Friendship Circle’s Great Bike Giveaway, Jacob’s mother, Bernadette Richmond, sought community support to help her son win the bicycle of his dreams.

According to the contest’s website, the “Friendship Circle’s Great Bike Giveaway provides an opportunity to win a bike as well as provides a fundraising platform for friends and family members. The Great Bike Giveaway gives a child with special needs the experience, joy and independence of riding a special bike.”

The state-of-the-art tricycle, which retails for $3,980, arrived in the back of a pick-up truck that followed a procession of law enforcement vehicles, fire engines and motorcycles that drove down Jacob’s street in Cliffwood last Saturday.

Shawn Curry, who is from Marlton in Burlington County, said “this is what the elks do. All I wanted to do is see (Jacob) smile when he received that bike.”

Curry, a member of the motorcycle committee, said Stephen Szczepaniak, Vice President of the South Central District NJ State Elks Association, posted a link to the contest’s website on the “I am an Elk” Facebook page earlier this year.

“I saw (the link), copied it and shared it,” Curry said. “I asked everyone else in my elk lodge to do the same.”

Richmond said she also encouraged a local media outlet to share Jacob’s story online. She said “The people from the contest said they have never seen that many votes for one child … I did not expect this. To see all these people come out for (Jacob) – I needed to take a deep breath.”

Members of the motorcycle committee also presented Jacob with his own committee t-shirt, a helmet and other safety equipment.

As for Jacob, the kind gesture left him speechless.

“I’m screaming on the inside,” he said.