Dear current and future Scarman supporters:
I am pleased to share the news with you of my third cross-country journey: Ride with Hope. My first ride was in 1986. As a show of appreciation to my aunt for helping me in my journey to self-acceptance, I rode my bike across the United States. The year after that, to raise awareness for arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC), I rode my bike across Canada. Today, I am now bringing my message of acceptance, hope and love across the pond to England in August 2015.
I was born with AMC, a condition where the muscles stop developing in the seventh or eighth week of pregnancy. This condition often brings forth several accompanying issues. In my case, I was born with club hands and club feet, as well as no hip sockets and a lack of muscles and tendons throughout my body. I have had over thirty major surgeries that enabled me to walk, eat by myself, and to use my hands (in a limited capacity).
In addition to having AMC, I also fell into a 400-degree fryer (burning both hands), was nearly killed by a drunk driver, and was beaten up by teenagers I was trying to help. With so many scars on my body, I decided to draw a picture of myself showing all of my scars. Hence, “Scarman” was born. Although Scarman originated from me and was created from my scars, he represents all of us. We all have scars. Some we can see and some we can't.
One of my greatest accomplishments in life was not only overcoming my birth defects and enduring physical pain from surgeries and other incidences, but surviving the accompanying bullying and humiliation. Ultimately, I learned how to love and accept myself.
The original drawing of myself eventually inspired me to create a blank Scarman doll for children to draw their own scars, making the doll a loving representation of themselves. The popularity of these dolls (and years later a coloring book) has exceeded my greatest expectations. Thousands of Scarman dolls have been given to children in 40+ countries.
I should point out that one third of people born with arthrogryposis die before adulthood. Recently, two of my little friends (each four years of age) passed away. This loss inspired me to do even more to raise awareness for this condition, as well as helping people from all walks of life, with all types of stories, to accept and love themselves. So, that is why, twenty-eight years later, my dark hair now white, I want to ride my bike across England (from Bristol to London).
I was taught from an early age that while there is a lot I’m not able to do, there is a lot I am able to do. I know that riding my bike across England will probably be one of the most difficult physical tasks I have ever undertaken, but I am both excited and confident for the opportunity to bring hope and awareness to more people, particularly children making similar life journeys.
Having successfully completed two previous bike trips, I recognize the vital support that I will need for this third and very important ride. I will require a team consisting of six people, including a child with AMC. In addition, different children from Europe will be joining us for portions of Ride with Hope. I am currently working to arrange media coverage in the towns that I will pass through, as well as communicating with ESPN about a follow-up story.
My journey will end in Hyde Park (London) where there will be a meet-up with families from all over Europe. I cannot express the importance for children and their parents to know one other. Meeting others with the same condition and challenges is truly joyous. It helps people to feel far less isolated and to have greater reasons to be hopeful as they join together to support one another. Families who felt frightened and alone now feel as if they’re part of one large, loving family.
If you would like to support my Ride with Hope, please consider donating at gofundme.com. Your generosity will be used to support the logistics of Ride with Hope as well as Scarman dolls and coloring books for children.
Thank you for your support. Stay tuned for exciting news and updates.
Scarman was created from some of my scars, but he represents all of us. We all have scars. Some we can see and some we can't.
Every scar on Scarman is real and each scar has a story behind it. Your story of scars is unique and only yours. We can grow from our scars, from our struggles, and from our failures.
Celebrate the wonderful you for coming so far and by being perfect just the way you are!
Scarman on FB