EYE ON HEALTH: Signal Mountain toddler gets special gift to give him more independence

Riding a bike is not only considered a rite of passage for most children, it’s also something a lot of kids take for granted. But not one Signal Mountain family, whose toddler son with cerebral palsy got a special gift.

Jacob Phipps is an energetic little boy with a bright smile. Despite his battle with cerebral palsy, his mom describes him as one of the happiest toddlers she’s ever seen.

“The happiest child you have ever encountered. Lots of people ask if he is ever not smiling. He is always smiling. He is fun," Sorrell Phipps, Jacob's mom, said.

And Thursday morning he had a very big reason to smile. Catholic Charities of East Tennessee presented his family with a fully customized adaptive bike.

“We are so grateful for what they are doing for us," Phipps said.

“For us, it fits with our mission of serving our community and it is a way to give back and a way to give families and give Jacob that dignity that he so deserves," Lori Sliwa, East Tennessee Catholic Charities, said.

That dignity and a greater sense of normalcy is a big deal for Jacob and his family.

“You can’t just go out to the store and buy toys or a bike for him that will work for him," Phipps said.

Plus, she added it can be very expensive. Jacob, who was born premature, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy right after his first birthday. He faces a number of challenges.

“He is not yet sitting up on his own. He does not crawl or walk. He does have some other challenges with his hands. Mainly his motor function," Phipps said.

Jacob is in physical therapy and Phipps says he is making a lot of progress. This has been a challenging and difficult road at times, but Phipps and her family look at it as a learning experience.

“We never use the word normal, we say he is not doing the things that children his age are doing," Phipps said.

While Phipps knows Jacob may never be doing all the things kids his age are doing, they are all very grateful that something as simple as riding a bike is one thing they can cross off the list.

“We are so excited. We are so excited. He is the happiest baby," Phipps said.