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A boy and his bike

Jack McGinn on his custom-made tricycle, given to him by Variety the Children
Jack McGinn on his custom-made tricycle, given to him by Variety the Children's Charity. Below, McGinn and his grandmother, Diane Tansley, with the tricycle he had before he outgrew it.
— image credit: Contributed photo

All seven-year-old Jack McGinn wanted for Christmas was his two front teeth.

At least that's what grandpa Gordon jokes when Jack smiles, showing off his pearly whites.

And it might be true, seeing as the White Rock Elementary student received his ultimate dream present of a slick, cherry-red tricycle in the summer of 2012.

It's a pretty hard gift to top.

The custom-built ride would be a welcomed present for any little boy. But for McGinn, who has Global Developmental Delay and was recently diagnosed with autism, the tricycle – gifted to him from Variety the Children's Charity – has provided him with the opportunity to enjoy a favourite childhood pastime, just like his peers.

Jack – who will be appearing on the annual Variety Show of Hearts Telethon Jan. 25-26 – was first diagnosed at three months old, after friends and family repeatedly commented on how his head would fall back when they were holding him.

"Finally, I was getting tired of people asking me so I took him to the doctor," mom Julie said.

"Right away, when he picked him up, he knew. His muscle tone was low. And as soon as I heard that, you're heart kind of sinks."

Following the doctor's visit, Jack was referred to a pediatrician and, after three months of tests and blood work, the family received his diagnosis.

As a result of the Global Development Delay – caused by an extra copy of part of chromosome 15 being attached in each cell – Jack is non-responsive and has the mental capacity of a one to two year old, grandfather Gordon Tansley explained.

However, each day brings a little more progress, especially with the help of his family, who encourage his love of singing – even when it's Christmas carols in June – and the tricycle, which was custom-made for him through Motion Specialities B.C. and paid for by Variety after months of work from Gordon and his wife, Diane.

"I couldn't have done it without them," Julie said.

The single mom of two – eldest brother, Liam, is 11 – noted that the amount of time needed to go through the proper channels in order to get the bike would have been too much for her to take on.

When Jack was two, his grandparents took an old bike and attached straps so that Jack could ride it. However, he soon outgrew the bike and the cost for another proved to be too expensive.

But after two years without having a bicycle to ride on, Diane and Gordon were determined to get Jack pedaling again.

"It took quite a while. The doctor has to fill out forms and then you have to pull up financials. It's an endurance race," Diane said, noting the family shelled out a few extra dollars to have the bike painted red.

With the tricycle, Jack's able to participate in play, just like the other children at his school.

"It's really helped lighten the load," Diane said. "I'm not sure if he really processes it with the other kids thinking, 'hey, I've got my bike, I'm like you,' but others see it, they see he can get around.

"And once he's on there, just try and catch him."

 

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