“I got new shoes,” exclaims Stryker Quellhorst.
“You got new shoes,” clarifies Kourtney Quellhorst, Styrker’s mom.
Two and a half-year-old Stryker Quellhorst is a determined little boy who wants to do everything his older siblings do, despite some extra challenges he faces due to a rare genetic disorder.
Stryker was diagnosed with Spinocerebellar ataxia type 29, also known as SCA29.
His mom Kourtney told me that the part of his brain that controls his balance and coordination is completely shut off, so one side doesn’t talk to the other, which makes everyday tasks such as walking, talking, eating, and riding bike very difficult.
“He has this infinity for bikes,” says Kourtney. “So it makes it hard because that’s one of the biggest things is to balance, unfortunately.”
But difficult or not, Styker is set on doing what he loves, and doing everything his siblings do.
“His brother and sister are his world,” exclaims Kourtney. “He looks up to them so much and he saw brother racing and put his love for bikes together and it’s a perfect match for him.”
Stryker has watched his older brother race at BMX FasTrax since he was born, and as you might expect, Stryker wanted to do the same.
So Kourtney thought maybe Stryker could ride a strider bike, with a few modifications.
“I brought it up to the crew here and they were eager to jump on it and make something for Stryker so he could race like brother can too,” exclaims Kourtney. “They came back later that night and just said, you know you guys he deserves to be like brother, just like anybody else and just watching him move around on that bike with the biggest smile was reward enough. They donated the bike to us.”
So after a little chopping, welding and a fresh layer of paint, the crew had a new set of wheels just for Stryker.
Dale Ponzer and Weston Weidrich are part of a select group of several volunteers who are very involved with the track, and for them, the decision was easy.
“I guess we kind of look at it as everybody should have a chance,” says Dale Ponzer, volunteer. “We’re pretty proud of him, he’s been doing really good on the track here and we like to see him come because he brings a lot of heart to the track and around here we call him MotoV8R.”
“It’s just amazing to have something all-inclusive for your child,” says Kourtney. “Just watching him enjoy the same thing as the rest of the kids did just brings tears to all of our eyes because he gets to do that and the excitement of being included, even at 2.5 knowing he gets to be included is just amazing.”
Stryker has the rarest form of SCA29.
It does not progress, meaning he will learn to adapt to life and eventually become fully functional in society without any assistance, but still hard for his body to work every day.
As for BMX FasTrax in Bismarck, they encourage all to give it a whirl, and if a child doesn’t have a bike and helmet of their own, they can borrow one when they get to the track.