Story, Patient

How Chase Ditched His Training Wheels

December 3, 2019

Chase was born two months early in full cardiac arrest and has faced a multitude of medical challenges ever since. But that didn’t stop him from riding in the Courage Classic Bicycle Tour. Read his inspirational story of overcoming obstacles and giving back to fellow patients at Children’s Colorado.

Laura clearly remembers the day that her then 3-year-old son, Chase, asked if he could ride with her in the Courage Classic Bicycle Tour. Laura had been cycling in the event for years, helping to raise thousands of dollars for Children’s Hospital Colorado. But the idea of Chase riding a bike? That was a daunting undertaking, to say the least. 

Chase has faced an uphill battle from day one. Born two months early in full cardiac arrest, Chase nearly didn’t survive. Doctors were able to revive him and immediately put Chase on a ventilator to breathe. He required two blood transfusions and was later diagnosed with a brain bleed and hydrocephalus, an incurable condition in which fluid builds up in the brain.

“We almost lost him several times,” Laura said. “The fact that he’s even with us today is a miracle.”

Even after he was stabilized, Chase still faced many struggles. He spent the next 10 weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, fighting for his life.


Overcoming challenges

Eight years later, Chase continues to undergo treatment at Children’s Colorado for challenges ranging from respiratory issues to partial blindness. He’s undergone more surgeries in eight years than most people will endure in a lifetime, including four optical surgeries to improve his eyesight. Yet despite every setback, Chase has proven time and time again that he is stronger than anyone thought possible.

“Since he was a baby, his motto has always been ‘stronger than you think,’” Laura said. “He has overcome so much, and he finds the joy in everything.”

Beyond Chase’s determined spirit, Laura also credits Children’s Colorado with helping her family to thrive.

“They have been incredible,” Laura said. “They not only saved Chase’s life, but they also supported our entire family every step of the way.”

Crossing the finish line

Despite all the progress Chase has made over the years, it was still a challenge for him to learn to ride a bike. But Laura was determined to do everything she could to allow her son to participate in the Courage Classic.

“It was not easy for him,” Laura said. “We tried strider bikes and other things, but we struggled to get him off his training wheels.”

Then, in 2017 – five years after telling his mother that he wanted to ride in Courage Classic – Chase proved once again just how determined he is. He learned to ride a bike without training wheels.

A few weeks later, he rode the Durango Derailers cycling team across the Courage Classic finish line at Copper Mountain, Colo. It was a moment his mother will never forget.

“It’s a true testament to his courage and strength against all odds,” Laura said. 

Last month, Chase once again rode his bike in the Courage Classic. Crowds of people cheered him on as he tenaciously crossed the finish line. 

“He is living proof that it doesn’t matter what you face in your life, we are all stronger than we think,” Laura said.

Giving back

For Laura and her family, the Courage Classic is much more than a scenic bike tour. It’s about giving back to an organization that has given her family so much – and helping to ease the burden on other local families who have to travel to Children’s Colorado for care.

Laura and Chase regularly make the six-hour, 300-mile trip from their hometown near Durango to Children’s Colorado at Aurora. Their rural area doesn’t offer the pediatric specialty care that Chase requires.

“For the first six years of Chase’s life, we had to make that trip at least once every three months,” said Laura. “We know what a burden it can be on families to miss work and school, often traveling long distances to access the care they need.”

Six years ago, Laura started riding with the Durango Derailers Courage Classic cycling team to support children like Chase who have to travel far from home to access expert pediatric specialty care. In that time, the team has raised more than $400,000 to fund food, lodging and transportation for local families traveling to Children’s Colorado from southwest Colorado. Laura’s employer, Alpine Bank, has also become a significant corporate supporter, donating tens of thousands of dollars to Children’s Colorado. 

Together, their fundraising makes a tremendous difference, supporting hundreds of families every year.

“My hope is that we can make life just a little bit easier for these families facing overwhelming challenges,” said Laura.

Laura also loves how the Courage Classic helps to teach her son the importance of helping others.

“We want to teach Chase how to give back to the people who have given so much to him,” she said.