Top

Back on Track

November 6, 2015 by · Comments Off 

William and Wyatt Parker
By Heather Parker
Late in the spring, following a spree of racing, William asked for a break. He was tired and wasn’t having fun, he said. We vowed to take the summer off, with the only exception being Rockford in June. There, William got a break alright, just not the kind he wanted.

I look back now to spring, and have a clearer understanding. We had come to a point where William’s race weekends were only rewarding to him if there were wins involved. Anything less left him feeling unaccomplished and disappointed. How had that happened? Why were we always focused on what went wrong instead of what went right?

After four dizzying months, I find his perspective, our perspectives, entirely changed.

For four months, our yard sat empty as homemade dirt jumps melted away in the summer rains. Our neighbors, so accustomed to seeing the boys sprinting up and down the street, inquired after them. Wyatt sat idly by, waiting for his brother to come back and ride with him.

Slowly, slowly things began to happen. I began to notice new victories each day: I got in my chair without help! I stood up to brush my teeth! I took a shower, unassisted! I hopped across the house! No matter how small it seemed, it suddenly became worthy of celebration.

Last month the big day finally came. William was cleared. He took his first lap on the track during Friday practice at the Gator Nationals in Oldsmar. He mostly rolled and pumped, but it was easy to see the potential energy. He couldn’t wait to ride again.

The following Tuesday night we went to ride at our adopted home track in Dothan, AL. An eager new parent welcomed us to the track and asked, “Are your boys new?” It was very kind, and reminded me of many years ago when we really were new.

But everything did feel new. Where was the hesitation and doubt? I’m going to start with the jump into the last turn. I’m going to jump the double now. Did you see me manual that?!? Each new jump William cleared, made him feel victorious. I watched in awe and wonder, my son’s boyish enthusiasm; an enthusiasm I hadn’t seen in years. I finally dragged him and his tired brother off the track just-before our T.O. turned off the lights.

So much has changed in four months. So much has changed in one week! Fresh piles of dirt adorn our yard, and new trails cut through our once-pristine summer grass. Everyday brings a new victory, and a new love and appreciation for BMX. There’s something fresh and wonderful about starting over, with each accomplishment on the track inducing happiness and confidence. And now each day, without fail, William says what I’ve waited four months to hear, “C’mon Wyatt! Let’s go ride!”

Whether or not this experience will make William a better rider is yet to be seen. I do know that it’s already made him a happier rider, and that is the greatest victory of all.

—Heather

Will Power Can Break, But is Never Broken

July 20, 2015 by · Comments Off 

William and Wyatt ParkerBy Heather Parker
One month ago, today, William crashed in Rockford, coming out of the last turn in the 13-14 open semi, following a rain delay on Saturday. He suffered compound fractures to his right collarbone and left femur, and a fracture to his shoulder. He spent six hours in two separate surgeries the next day. His femur was 9cm (3.5″) displaced, making swelling and muscle trauma extreme.

There was no interruption in the race because of his accident. He never cried out, or did anything to indicate the severity of his situation.

William: “When I wrecked, the first thing I noticed was my collarbone. I knew it was broken. I didn’t notice my leg until I tried to stand up. I was helped to my feet, and walked (hopped) to the medical tent. I’ve never seen anyone walk off with a broken leg. I don’t know how I did it. I remember sitting on the table with my legs dangling. I could feel then that my left femur (the same one I had broken once before) was broken again. I asked the medic to take my left shoe off and check my femoral artery. I wanted to make sure it was ok. I remember my dad saying, ‘Cut off his pants! Call the ambulance, NOW!’ The medic in the tent said, ‘Are you sure? Those pants look expensive.’ I thought that was funny. I felt OK until I had to move to the stretcher.

William Parker after his wreck at the 2015 Midwest NationalsFor three days, William remained relatively pain-free, in a drug-induced fog. As the IV was removed, and narcotics were weaned, his pain and frustration intensified (above).

Tuesday, June 23

Heather: I won’t lie. I’ve broken down. Most recently just a minute ago, when Vann texted me the x-rays.

Yesterday, I walked into our shed where William works out. I closed my eyes and could hear the clink of the weights, and his feet landing on the plyo boxes. I looked down and saw a shirt he had discarded during his plyos a week ago. A week ago! I picked it up, held it to my face, and lost it. I caught my breath, dried my tears, and tossed it in the wash. Suck it up, Heather. Suck it up!

Knowing that William would be unable to fly due to risk of blood clots, infection, and swelling, I drove up to Rockford, from Tallahassee, so he would have an easy ride home (or, as “easy” as it could get at this point).

After five days in Rockford Memorial, and two more in a nearby hotel, William was cleared to travel. Doctors advised us to stop every 1-2 hours to force William onto one leg to help his blood circulate.

William Parker with the Segal Sisters

We stopped outside of Nashville to visit the Segal family. Here’s William with Sophia (left) and Ava.

Although arriving home was a relief, we faced obstacles there as well. Our house was difficult to navigate in a wheelchair. Friends quickly built us a wheelchair ramp so we could get William in and out the front door. Friends and neighbors sent meals and cards.

Throughout the first week at home, during the darkest of times, William asked, “Why is this happening?” My only answer, that I believe with my whole heart, is that he has the strength to not only handle it, but to turn it into something positive.

The side effects of the pain medications were terrible and, two weeks post-accident, William wanted no more of it.

William Parker, vertical after crashing at the 2015 USA BMX Midwest Nationals“I have an opportunity. I can start again. I can be stronger and faster, and say, ‘Look what I have overcome!’ I’m not afraid. I just want to ride my bike.”
- William Parker, July 6, 2015

William will make a full recovery. He fought through a femur break early in his BMX career, at age 6, giving him the nickname “Will Power.” William is now proficient at hopping around the house on his right leg, using a crutch under his left arm. He attacks physical therapy like a training workout, and is making tremendous progress. By the end of July, our hope is that he can begin partial weight-bearing therapy, and that his collarbone is healed enough for him to use two crutches. By the end of August, he hopes to be walking on his own.

William Parker after his femur surgeryWe don’t know how long his recovery will take. We only know that each day is better than the one before.

Vann and I will be scared-stiff watching him race when the time comes. I can’t even speak of the pain we’ve witnessed our child in. At the same time, we realize he’s only 14 years old. He will heal. He has a whole lifetime in front of him. We have to support what he is so passionate about, no matter how much it frightens us. William is not afraid, and he teaches us to be brave too.

William has never spoken of racing as being his “dream.” The bike is simply his passion. His idols are Luke Segal and Jeremy Thompson, and he plans to race throughout his adulthood just like them.

“The thought of quitting BMX has never entered my mind. I just want to ride. I don’t know anything different than racing. It’s just what I love to do. I have every reason to ride again, so why wouldn’t I?”
William Parker

Bobby Dellert visits William Parker after his wreck at the 2015 USA BMX Midwest Nationals

Bobby Dellert visits William in Rockford Memorial, after his wreck

Our heartfelt thanks to Greg Habib, Jeff Ketron and Gary Whittington for being on-scene for Vann and William. Special thanks to Ellen Habib and Michele Posey for simply listening and understanding. Thank you to the Dellert family for visiting William and making him smile in his darkest hour. Many thanks always to Greg and Richel Swingrover and Crupi for their continued support.

And many thanks to all the friends and family who sent cards, well wishes and love for William.

Heather

Top Photo: This is the most-recent photo of William’s progress. Some sidewalk wheelchair manuals, powered by brother Wyatt.

Editor’s Note: I left the track during the rain delay, and missed William’s wreck. I was shocked to hear the extent of his injuries and, needless to say, was deeply concerned.

Having just spent most of Friday night at Rockford Memorial with dR, after his third round wreck, I knew Rockford Memorial would take great care of William. When I visited him a few days later, it was clear he was in a lot of pain, and it was very difficult to move, given he had extreme injuries to both his leg and collarbone. He was gritting-it-out like a champ—which, I have to admit, was very inspiring. Seeing him in this article, one month later, brings a lot of relief, knowing he is solidly on the road to recovery, and has the usual smile back on his face.

So often, we only see the rider carried off by EMT, give him a round of applause, then never really see what happens next, til we see him again in several months. And sometimes, we never see him again. I am very grateful to Heather, Vann, William and Wyatt for giving us all a peek inside what happens after the medics clear the track, and the gate drops on the next rack. For both, the path back to staging is what awaits–it just takes longer for the guy in the ambulance. We will update this story as William gets closer to his return.

—Mike Carruth


Comments


More Comments





BMX News Promax Top Story, Presented by Promax Components

The Skill to Chill After a Concussion Discussion

March 26, 2015 by · Comments Off 

William Parker recovering from Rock Hill
By Heather Parker

“I’m FINE, Mom.” William rolled his eyes at me as I dragged him off to the medical tent during practice in Rock Hill last Saturday. He cased the jump into the second turn, leaving his weenus* on the asphalt. The wound was too big for me to sufficiently clean and wrap, so we took advantage of the excellent medical staff from Novant Health. As he sat there getting cleaned up, we both realized that it was the first time he had ever visited the medical tent at a national.

The crash was a bit nasty, and no doubt painful, and left William with a bit of hesitancy going into first round. He knew he needed to hit that jump, but felt uneasy. He sailed through cruiser without incident, but without attempting the jump. He geared himself up to hit it in his expert round.

I watched intently, as William, with a strong lead, hit the second straight. He looked clean as he took the first two jumps, but as he approached the third he faltered…

I have a dear friend whose young son is going blind. She explained to me that his vision is like a curtain slowly closing, his visual field becoming narrower. In that odd moment I thought of this. As the world closed around me, my visual field contained only my child, my son, flying through the air and landing on the side of his head.

We’ve seen our boys crash countless times. There have been broken bones and dislocations, but nothing ever looked quite like this. It seemed like an eternity before the medics were able to get him on his feet, and walk him, pale and disoriented, back to the tent where he had his elbow wrapped an hour earlier.

After thorough assessment it was determined that William had suffered a concussion. His Fly helmet was toast, but did its job well. William’s visible wounds were cleaned and dressed. We were given strict instructions: no electronics for 72 hours, and NO BIKE for six days. To his dad and me, that was a no brainer (no pun intended).

As we left the tent and slowly made our way back to the Crupi pit, William asked, “So, can I race tomorrow?” He wanted to. There was no doubt. Many people stopped to check on him, and asked the same question. Our answer? “Absolutely not.”

It made me realize the importance of riders and friends looking out for each other. Who stops the pros and older experts? Donny Robinson touched on this subject in his #WinningWednesdays article “Pull the Trigger, or Pull the Plug?” Donny stresses the importance of self-assessment after a crash, saying “…being aware of yourself as well as others. Adrenaline is what helps us reach that extra level of performance and after a big crash, it’s often not possible for us, as riders, to accurately diagnose our situation. Never take a rider’s adrenaline-rushed-answer of ‘I’m OK’ as gospel.”

William, disappointed, but also knowing that he was due to be back on the track in Desoto six days later, followed orders and started his period of rest. Our friend Karen had sound, simple advice: “Take it easy and take care of that head, you never know when you might need it…”

Heather Parker found a four-leaf clover
While out with our dog this morning, something caught my eye amidst the new spring grass. It’s only the second one I’ve ever seen. I placed it gently in my son’s suitcase, and put him on a plane to DFW.

Many thanks to everyone who extended their well wishes to William, and to the thorough and competent medics in the tent that day.

—Heather

*Wyatt got in the car after school recently and proclaimed, “Mom! Your weenus is showing!” According to Urban Dictionary, “weenus” is defined as the skin on your elbows.

Freebie

Download Donny Robinson’s #WinningWednesdays article “Pull The Trigger or Pull the Plug,” which is an excerpt from the Pedals 2 Medals back-issues e-book.

Download the PDF Now

For more on concussions in BMX Racing, check out:

Links

Podcast: Jay Fraga and Donny Robinson on “Riding Hurt”

Pedals 2 Medals Website

The Knockout Project Website





BMX News Promax Top Story, Presented by Promax Components

The Manager

November 17, 2014 by · Comments Off 

William Parker and Carlos Perez
By Heather Parker

We first met Carlos Perez in 2010. He’d caught word of William, and had been watching him during the season. William was a wounded 9x fresh off of double elbow dislocations, but Carlos took a chance and believed in him. Carlos made no demands. He only expected William’s best. He helped William see what he was capable of, so he could sit back and watch him fly.

We had no idea what we were getting into when William joined Carlos’ Factory Felt squad in 2010. It didn’t take us long to figure out that what we were joining was nothing short of a family. We all made fast friends in the pits, and shared more laughs and good times than I can count.

There’s something extraordinary about this team– this group of people we refer to as “family”. There’s a bond that forms when you share emotions; the hope and love for your children, shared excitement and shared tears. For years we’ve cheered as one, wanting the best for all of our riders. We all know what it feels like when our child doesn’t make the main, so we all know what to say, how to help, and when to hug. For a time, we were like a small, perfect village.

William Parker with Meredith Lidstone
Four years ago when I told William to introduce himself to the new lady on the team, I wouldn’t have guessed it was the beginning of a long friendship. Since that day, Meredith Lidstone has provided William with sage advice for on and off the track. When words didn’t help, she gave him magic shorts— Under Armor drawers I would have to wash in the hotel sink every night at nationals because they really worked. She’s watched William grow from a little boy into (yikes!) the 13 year old man child he is now. I expect she’ll watch him go off to college, and dance at his wedding too. It doesn’t matter that they’re no longer in the same jersey. They rode for Carlos together, and that means they’re family.

The moms under Carlos’ tent formed friendships that can’t be undone. “We’re friends before BMX”, one mom said to me just the other day. And she’s right.

As we prepare for the Grands next week, we prepare for the end of an era, and the beginning of a new one. We reflect on the races won, the friends we’ve made, and the times we’ve shared. I reflect back now in amazement at the dedication of Carlos and Madeline Perez, who year after year brought a group of riders and families together who are all winners.

THANK YOU, Carlos Perez for believing in more than just a team. THANK YOU Carlos for the friendships that come before BMX. THANK YOU, Carlos for being a team manager and leader who cares more for his riders than winning a team sheet. While we are always grateful for the support of our sponsors, it’s the people on our team and leading our team that mean the most.

—Heather Parker





BMX News Promax Top Story, Presented by Promax Components

Coaching Certification: You Can Do It!

March 4, 2014 by · Comments Off 

William Parker Teaching a Clinic
By Heather Parker

Last summer, William was invited by John Beck, the track operator at Circle City BMX in Dothan, AL, to teach a clinic. The clinic was scheduled for a local race day, and was free with race registration. Cleverly named the “Beginner Spinner” clinic, William had ten eager pupils, some of whom were very new to the sport.

William was a bit shy at first, his voice a little soft, his movements lacking theatrics. Just as I began to worry, I could hear him at the gate. “Roll your wrists forward. That’s it. Stand up a little taller. Good.” He knew exactly what he was doing, and the kids responded and loved it. By the end of the clinic, William was confident, and looking forward to the next one. It was a win-win for everyone.

We noticed something that day. The kids were not intimidated by William, their peer. They weren’t afraid to ask questions, and they all really worked hard!

William Parker Intermediate Clinic
A few weeks later, William hosted a more advanced clinic for intermediates only, and introduced this group to manualing and jumping. It was another hit. (Pictured: William with his advanced clinic participants.)

As word spread, William received requests from other tracks in the area, and we were eager to start scheduling.

Unfortunately, a USA BMX rule change threw a monkey wrench into our plans:

“Any person teaching a clinic at a track as of Jan 1, 2014, must be a USA BMX Certified Coach.”

What!? William, not wanting to give up his clinics, quickly decided that he would become a coach. After carefully reading through the requirements and seeing no indication of an age restriction, John Beck came through for us, and recommended William for the program.

After consulting with USA BMX Head Coach Justin Travis, we learned the omission of an age restriction was an oversight, and William was eligible to be an “assistant coach” only. And what qualifies someone to be an assistant coach? He merely has to be an experienced rider under the age of 18. However, a certified coach still has to be present. Justin advised that I take the course.

Me? Can you see it? My only bike is the turquoise and hot pink beach cruiser my dad gave me when I was 15, and I wouldn’t dream of putting it on a BMX track! OK kids, does anyone else here know first aid because I am about to demonstrate a pull-manual…

It seemed I had no choice. I would do it on one condition: William would do everything with me regardless of the fact that he could not receive the certification. Together we took a First Aid/CPR/AED course, and William showed me up with his strength and youth. If anyone could get a ticker ticking, it’s that kid. He even went so far as to request that Circle City BMX get an AED unit in case he needs to revive someone. Let’s hope not!

WIlliam Parker Studying USA BMX Coaching Manual
After I passed my background check (phew!), we were ready to study the coaches manual and take the exam. I have to admit I was sweating bullets. I knew if I didn’t ace it that my 12 year old would out score me. No thanks! So, I nailed it. When it came time for William to take the test, he gave me an, “Aw Mom, do I have to?” That’s when I laid down the law. If he doesn’t pass the exam, I will not allow him to do clinics. He sighed and got to work (above).

All in all, I was impressed with the thoroughness of the coaching manual. The program is well outlined, and designed to retain riders by giving them a scheduled program that encourages them to show up. It states that new riders must take two intro clinics before they are allowed to race. Once the intro clinics are completed, the new rider may also attend the eight individual skills clinics. The clinics are well-scripted and easy to follow, creating a learning structure to help riders advance.

I do suggest that USA BMX revise the coaching requirements for riders under 18 who wish to teach. While I understand the safety requirement of having a responsible adult present, many experienced riders, whether they are 18 or not, are well equipped to teach and retain incoming riders.

William’s results just came in, and he passed the exam with flying colors. His experience far outweighs the little card that claims I am a certified BMX coach, so I’ll leave the teaching to him. I’ll be on hand however, to make sure things go smoothly. After all, “mom” is a much higher title than “coach.”

—Heather

Links

USA BMX Coaching Website

Podcast with USA BMX Coaching Director Justin Travis

Heather’s “Adventures of a BMX Mom” Blog





BMX News Promax Top Story, Presented by Promax Components

A Cut for a Cause

August 15, 2012 by · Comments Off 

William Parker donates hair to Locks of Love

Felt BMX Floridian, William Parker, is widely know for his winning ways in 11x and 11c. And as long as we’ve known him, he has had some pretty long hair, which has kind of become a personal trade mark.

But times change, and as William heads off to Middle School this month, he decided to lop off some serious length, and donate the hairy proceeds to “Locks of Love,” a nonprofit that uses donated hair to create hairpieces for children who have lost theirs. Juvenile hair loss is typically due to diseases like alopecia, or as a result of cancer treatment.

The West Palm Beach, FL nonprofit states its mission as “returning a sense of self, confidence and normalcy to children suffering from hair loss, by utilizing donated ponytails to provide the highest quality hair prosthetics to financially disadvantaged children.”

When asked what motivated him to donate his hair instead of just ditching it, WIlliam told us:

I always knew that when I cut it off, I would donate it. I’m about to start middle school, and I wanted a change. My hair has been long since I was six. I made the donation in honor of my best friend Thomas (lymphoma), my Uncle George (lung cancer) and my Aunt Kathy (ovarian cancer).

Looking at the before / after photo above, it doesn’t even look like the same person…and that’s exactly how it will work out for the kids who are helped by William’s donation.

Other members of the Parker extended family have donated to Locks of Love before, and several of his Felt BMX teammates have as well, including Ricky Castro last year (below).
BMXers WIlliam Parker (left) and Ricky Castro have both donated hair to Locks of Love

William hasn’t said whether or not he’d start growing it back, effective today, but the general consensus is that he probably will.

Links

Locks of Love Website


Comments

Bottom