BISMARCK, N.D. Every year, the Great American Bike Race selects two children to be one of the main focal points of the event. They serve as ambassadors for the race and offer some inspiration to families who have children suffering from cerebral palsy.
Let's meet “GABR Star” Elijah Perdue.
He can sing, he can dance.
“You want me to show them some monkey moves?,” said GABR Star, Elijah Perdue.
And like most nine-year-old boys, he's got a slew of jokes up his sleeve.
“What did the monkey say when he ate bananas?!,” said Elijah.
However, what makes Elijah Perdue a little different from other kids is that he suffers from cerebral palsy.
“It was kind of a surprise,” said Elijah’s mother, Sarah Perdue.
And what a surprise it was. After Elijah was born, he spent four months in the NICU, basically just trying to survive.
“He was on oxygen until he was eight months old,” said Sarah. “He had some vision issues with his retinas and stuff. So, he had his first surgery at two and a half months and his second one three months while he was in the NICU, still.”
But when you've got a personality that can light up a whole room...
“Thank you for this microphone!,” said Elijah.
Along with some good manners to boot...it makes it easier on everyone trying to make a dark situation a little bit better.
“When we have new doctor appointments and I tell him about them, he says ‘Oh! I get to meet new nurse friends?!’,” said Sarah.
And speaking of doctor appointments, Elijah comes to therapy a couple times a week.
“We're really working a lot on his ability to control how he gets up and down from a seated position, to standing on his own,” said Michelle Vetter, Sanford Health physical therapist. “So, when he's at home when he's older, he can make a sandwich for himself at the counter, take a few steps over the table.”
No question there will be some tough times ahead…
“He has taken everything in stride,” said Sarah. “Every surgery, every difficulty, every challenge.”
But when you've got those traits in your back pocket, you've got the recipe for some success.