It has been almost five years since a tragic motor vehicle accident which left one person dead and a child with a traumatic brain injury. Malachi Newcomm, 16, at the time was an 11-year-old boy forced to relearn even the simplest of tasks all over again.
Regaining skills more than a year following a traumatic brain injury is uncommon. Yet Malachi continues to amaze his family and therapists by accomplishing newer and more difficult tasks every month.
“His story is remarkable and the determination found in him is inspirational for being only 16. Generally, 16 year olds come with attitude and immaturity, but he has had to rise above his years since he was 11. Five years ago this Christmas, his mother was shopping for a new bike because he had outgrown his previous bike. He was then involved in a motor vehicle accident that left him with a traumatic brain injury and had him learning all of the simplest of tasks all over again,” said friend and caregiver Ashley McMurtry.
“He is very humble and we tell him weekly what kind of mountains he is bringing down when he should have plateaued YEARS ago,” she said.
For the past four years, Malachi has been working every week on improving his independence. When he began his outpatient therapy adventure, Malachi was not able to roll over by himself and he required two people to help him sit up on the edge of the mat. He was not able to hold his head up on his own when he was sitting upright, and he required help to move all his extremities.
Through perseverance and with an incredible work ethic, he has regained his strength and endurance little by little. His drive and determination to be independent has helped him to accomplish standing and walking with a walker, and most recently, climbing stairs all on his own. In therapy, Malachi has ridden and mastered a stationary bike. The next logical step would be one he could ride at home or in the community.
This is where Music City Trykes, and their Amtryke therapeutic tricycle program comes in. Music City Trykes is a chapter of a national nonprofit, AMBUCS, with mission to builds provide independence and mobility through gifting Amtrykes to kids like Malachi. These Trykes are custom built to meet the needs of each individual rider who would not be able to ride a bike on their own. Each bike component from handlebars, to pedals, trunk support and seat, is carefully selected for individual riders. Even if a candidate is unable to walk, the Amtryke can be adapted to provide them with the thrill of feeling the wind in their face.
When Malachi was told about the opportunity to have a tryke built for him, Malachi nearly jumped out of his wheelchair. His infectious smile and high pitch squeal said it all. It was time to get him a bike. He made his own TikTok to raise awareness and show off how dedicated he has been working while at therapy. Word of mouth made it to the right ears and financial support was secured. Malachi would get the opportunity to be able to ride.
On Sunday evening, Malachi anxiously awaited his belated birthday present. He knew it was something “big,” but he did not know what he was getting. Then it arrived and he was custom fitted to it on the spot to ensure that he could ride safely and with the most independence. His first time on the tryke, he was able to take off at full speed, surprising all those watching.
“I never thought I would ever be able to see him on a bike again,” his mother, Tiffany, said after he got done with his fitting.
“Malachi is truly is a miracle. And now he has a miracle bike to help him continue to get stronger,” McMurtry said.
“Anything with this young man is possible. He just keeps breaking down all the barriers of TBI.”