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Anderson boy with brain disorder overcomes odds with help of community

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ANDERSON — Trenton Brown sped down his neighborhood street on his brand new, cherry red bike. He was giddy and giggling, and even though it was cold, his mom and uncle couldn't pry him from the handlebars.

The people driving down the street who don't know anything about the 7-year-old probably just thought he was an average grade school boy riding bikes with his 5-year-old brother, Braxton.

They wouldn't know off-hand that the shiny new adapted tricycle, a Rifton bike, was made so he could use it despite being partially paralyzed on his right side. Or, that he has epilepsy, cerebral palsy and a rare brain disorder called schizencephaly.

At 6 months old, Trenton was diagnosed with the brain disorder. Four years ago, a tumor developed on his brain, which is regularly screened for fluid and signs of cancer. Epileptic seizures happen so often that his parents, Michael and Kelly Brown, have called an ambulance as many as 50 times in a three-month span.

Every time their son goes one month seizure-free, it's a celebration. Trenton was never supposed to hold up his head, let alone walk, let alone ride a bike, Kelly Brown said.

"He was supposed to be in a vegetative state his entire life," she said. "As his mom, I'm so amazed at what he's accomplished. He's been through hell and back."

Before Monday, Trenton was just one of 553 entered in the Great Bike Giveaway, which connects special needs kids with an adaptive bike or trike each year. His odds were good, teetering between first and second place, but an Anderson couple wanted to make those odds a reality.

Angie and Shane Warner, owners of The Hope Chest in Anderson, took to eBay to find a Rifton bike. They found one, bought it and drove to Michigan to get it. During the trip, their car broke down. The trek ultimately took 27 hours, but Angie Warner said it was worth it.

"It was worth every second to see the smile on Trenton's face," she said.

Warner gave Kelly Brown the bike on Monday. She said the overjoyed mother kept asking her why she chose to do this.

"We have three kids," she said. "Our kids ride together and play together. Trenton couldn't ride with Braxton, and he deserved to be able to do that."

The spunky 7-year-old isn't deterred by his condition, Kelly Brown said. He's learned to play video games, despite his partial paralysis. When his younger brother wanted to play T-ball, the mother made sure both of her boys went to bat.

"I volunteered to coach so he could play, too," she said. "We try to keep things as normal as possible. We don't want his life to be hampered in any way."

The parents have faced more adversity than the diagnosis, along with the hoops Kelly and Michael jump through with health insurance and assistance to meet their oldest son's needs. Kelly said her experience advocating for her son has ignited a passion to do the same for others.

"When we started out, it was just us," she said. "Just two parents trying to do the best for their son. We didn't have any resources, or none that we knew of at the time. That's why I want to be an advocate. No one needs to be alone in this."

The bike was just another step toward normal. Undeterred by the wind-whipping, cold and muddy outdoors, Trenton wanted to show off his new skills on Wednesday afternoon.

"Watch how fast I can go," he said, to a room full of people. Before going outside, he stopped and said, "Can I have a hug?"

Trenton was riding around like he'd been doing it for years, but he was closely watched by his uncle, Darrick Miller, and respite nurse Vicki Bostic. He'd get to a stopping point and then they'd start over with a command of "Ready, set, go!"

His cheeks were pink with exertion, signalling to Miller and Bostic that it was time to head back inside. After some protesting, he pulled over to the side of the road.

"Mom, did you see? I was winning," Trenton said.

"That's right," she said, patting his back. "You're a winner. You're my hero."

Follow Laura Arwood on Twitter @lauraarwood or call 765-648-4284.