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6-year-old girl from small Michigan town needs votes to win adaptive bike

Eliana's disorder makes it hard for her to do most day-to-day activities by herself, but biking is one thing she doesn't want to give up.

PORTLAND, Mich. — Six-year-old Eliana Bolthouse of Portland, Michigan loves Daniel Tiger, playing with her sisters, going on bike rides, and of course, dance parties.

But when one of her favorite things wasn’t possible anymore, her family had to do to what they do best — advocate for her.

"When you have a family with a special needs kid, a lot of normal family things are difficult to do," said Trisha Bolthouse, her mom. 

Eliana was diagnosed with a rare brain malfunction called Lissencephaly at nine months old.

"Just like I want the best for all my girls, I just have to fight a little harder and in different ways for for Eliana," she said. 

One in 100,000 people are born with it, and only 20% of those cases are non-genetic, like Eliana’s case.

“She's the rare among the rare," her mom said. 

The disorder makes it hard for Eliana to do most day-to-day activities by herself, including walking and talking.

But she’s never had to give up one thing — enjoying the beautiful bike trails their town has to offer.

Inside her bike trailer, with the wind blowing in her face, it’s a rare moment of freedom for Eliana. With three little girls, it’s also a moment of peace for mom and dad, too. 

When Eliana outgrew her small trailer, though, they risked losing one of their favorite activities to do as a family.

“[It's] one more thing that we weren't going to be able to do anymore," Bolthouse said.

When they started researching the bike she would need, they found out it would be nearly $9,000.

“Are we going to have to give up biking as a family? Or is there another solution out there?” she said. 

Then, her mom discovered the Great Bike Giveaway, a program that donates adaptive bikes to families during a month-long giveaway.

She thought it was too good to be true.

“When I first found out about it, I was honestly a little skeptical, like, Is this even for real? Is this a scam?” she said. 

All they need to do is get the most votes.

“People are always asking how they can help. And this is one way that that people can help," Bolthouse explained. 

In a community they love, it’s one small way they can receive some of that love back.

“As a family with a special needs kid, it can feel very isolating you can feel very alone, and I think this has been having people vote for Eliana has been a way for the community to really support us in a very special way," she said. 

Eliana turns seven in just one month, so having one of her favorite activities back could be a wonderful birthday present to her.

You can vote for Eliana here. Voting ends on March 29. 

Voters can also donate to Eliana’s bike fund, and if she ends up winning, the money will go to another deserving kid to help get them the bike they need.


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