Local boy with multiple amputations rides bike to raise a mountain of money
Samuel Seehawer is your typical 8-year-old boy; he plays video games, he plays with a light sabre and loves to ride his bike.
Since September 2010, Samuel has translated his love for bike-riding into an impressive $40,000 in fundraising donations for Place of Rescue; a safe haven in Cambodia for families living with AIDS, orphaned children and young unmarried pregnant women. Samuel raises money by riding his bike through Calgary. What is even more impressive is that he had to do his annual Ride for Rescue on a modified bike as Samuel is a multiple amputee.
Samuel was born in Cambodia and abandoned at birth due to his congenital amputations; he is a little boy that is missing both hands and one foot. Samuel’s adoptive mother, Charlotte Seehawer, fell in love with him while volunteering at an orphanage. A few months after she first set eyes on him she adopted Samuel and brought him home to Calgary.
“When I was preparing to go home, I kissed them all goodbye and sat outside just absolutely devastated. I thought, ‘how could I just walk away from these children?” Charlotte remembers, the emotion of the memory making her voice heavy. “In the morning I went back to the orphanage, I kissed him again and I said, ‘I’ll be back, I don’t know when, but I’ll be back.’”
True to her word, Charlotte came back for Samuel, there was a knock-down fight with the Canadian government to allow him into Canada, but in March 2005 Samuel met his new father and sister for a tearful introduction at the airport in Calgary for the first time.
Samuel’s now annual Ride for Rescue began in 2010 when he saw a picture of a baby girl at Place of Rescue with the same upper amputations that he has. He decided on the spot that he wanted to help her; but neither Samuel, nor his mom, had an idea of how he was going to help.
Charlotte found someone else who made a difference in the world, and showed Samuel an old video of Terry Fox. It was then that the idea of a bike ride began to percolate for Samuel and his mom.
In June Samuel will embark on his fourth Ride for Rescue, and he shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. “He was a fighter right from the start. He was abandoned at birth, and left in the dirt wrapped in a piece of cloth, and that little baby survived,” Charlotte says; adding that Samuel is very driven to help others like him in Cambodia.
Samuel’s Ride for Rescue does indeed raise money for Place of Rescue, but it also brings together people of all ages, races and backgrounds; an event that inspires those that feel they can’t make a difference in the world they live in.
When he is not riding his bike, playing with his friends, or working hard in grade three, Samuel and his mom volunteer their time speaking to the groups that invite them to share Samuel’s story of facing a life without limbs, but also about how to make the most of what you have been given.
Samuel’s inspiring spirit and his contagious generosity got him nominated for a Volunteer Calgary Leadership Award, in the Leader of Tomorrow category. His love for the helping professions like firemen and police officers just might translate into being a leader of tomorrow; and give his mom a few gray hairs in the process.
“First he wanted to be a fireman, now he wants to be in the military; the military! I told him he could be a military engineer,” says Charlotte with a laugh.
June 22nd you may spot Samuel and a contingent of his followers out of the streets of Calgary, for the 4th annual Ride for Rescue.