Onalaska, Wis., May 17 — Have you ever known a deserving soul that wanted or needed something and you alone could not provide it for them? You could drink more beer to have more cans to turn in for recycling. That helps, right? You could sell your significant other’s stuff on eBay when they are not home, or something like that. Or, you could get the help of The Rock Foundation, an organization founded in 1999 by radio station The Rock 95.7 to help individuals, organizations and families in time of need. In the Coulee Region of the greater La Crosse, Wisconsin, area they have been helping to make dreams come true for children with life-threatening ailments for 15 years now. They do this through the Big Bikes for Little Tikes ride every year on the third Saturday in May.
This year’s ride was for Lyla Alamedia of Brownsville, Minnesota. Lyla is 5 years old and was born with Trisomy 18, a chromosomal abnormality, and the odds had given her about a year to live. Although only 7 percent with T18 make it that far, Lyla is a rule breaker, even challenging the odds by managing to walk. Currently she is making progress through feeding herself, potty training and even learning to verbally communicate her needs. She even attends preschool now. Some of the easily understood challenges are sleep apnea and low muscle tone. Don’t tell Lyla about challenges; she will accept them.
Lyla’s parents, Jenny and Joel Alamedia, are also facing some hurdles. There is a lot of financial drain that comes with raising a daughter with special needs. The medical bills alone are enough to break the average family bank—many times over. Their family consists of five; a younger sister Pearl and little brother Benjamin round it out. You know that fine line between poor and middle class? That is where they are; just beyond getting financial help for the visits to the ophthalmologist, audiologist, urologist, orthopedist, sleep specialist, etc.
Parents always want the world for their children. Lyla’s parents are no different, but they also realize what their world holds for them. When approached by The Rock Foundation, they expressed the wishes Lyla has to go to a beach to really enjoy her love of swimming. One other thing was an adaptive trike to help with her physical therapy while also being fun. It is too much for one or two people to provide for, but with the help of many it could be a dream come true.
On that beautiful May Saturday, more than 550 people paid to help out this precious girl. The ride entry included a T-shirt, can koozie and a meal ticket for the party at the end. Tickets to enter to win donated prizes were also handed out with the route directions. At each stop was a box to put your entry in that would be drawn at the afterparty. You had to make the next stop in time to get your entry in, so that helped move everyone along in a timely manner. Many stops had some great eats to hold over your hunger until the end. Many people also use this annual ride as a way to get the year started by meeting up with other motorcycle friends that are crawling out of hibernation.
The ride launched from La Crosse Area Harley-Davidson and then went across the Mississippi River to various Minnesota stops including Signature’s Restaurant located at The Bridges Golf Club in Winona, Minnesota. It wasn’t your average clientele at that stop, but everyone had a great time and some might have even been itching to play a round or two on the course.
The afterparty was at the Onalaska American Legion for the first time ever. Food and beverages were served while prizewinners were drawn. The Spare Parts Project offered up their musical services playing some great songs while everyone else hung out. Lyla was on a few of the stops to help encourage people to put their entries in the boxes. She was even at the last stop to help show off the motorcycle that The Rock 95.7 is giving away as part of their yearly fundraisers.
After it was all tallied up, enough funds were gathered to send Lyla and her family to a nice beach during our cold Midwest winters. They will also be able to surprise her with the adaptive trike they wanted. It is amazing what can be done when many people join together to lighten the load.
If you know of anyone that has suffered a tragedy and could use some help, you can send an e-mail to email@example.com. More info and opportunities to donate or help out in other ways can be found at www.957therock.com.
(This article One Dream Powered by Many was published in the July 2014 issue of Thunder Press, North edition.)