TRIMONT - Billie Meade learned when she was 20 weeks pregnant that her son Caden suffered from an unbalanced chromosome translocation.
"It's resulted in developmental delays," she said. "At the time, we had no idea what type of disabilities he would have at his birth ... But I'm learning with him as he's learning."
Caden Ellanson is in third grade now, but is more at the mental level of a 4-year-old.
"He is still learning to write," Meade said. "He's learning the ABCs. His learning to walk was delayed, and he tires easily."
However, he is still loved at Martin County West, by both staff and classmates.
"Seeing things from the teacher's end, he has taught the students and impacted so many lives," said Deb Bertram, a special education teacher at Martin County West. "As much as he learns from other students, they learn from him. It's a beautiful learning thing to watch, seeing them become more tolerant of people with disabilities. Caden is a wonderful young man, the school just loves him. It's also made us look at how to provide education differently for him."
Because of his developmental delays, Caden has trouble with tasks other children may take for granted, such as riding a bike.
"He has a bike with training wheels that he really goes on when he's inside," Bertram said. "You should see the smile on his face."
Unfortunately, once that bike is outside, Caden's confidence fades.
"He likes to sit on it, but he's terrified of riding his two-wheeler outside, because his balance isn't so good," Meade said.
"He's great with the training wheels indoors, but outdoors he freaks out," Bertram added.
While a three-wheel bike would solve the problem, the bikes are expensive. Enter the Moss organization.
"The school introduced me to the Moss grant," Meade said. "I knew nothing about it before then."
"[Moss] looks for students who have special needs or disabilities," Bertram said. "One member of our team suggested nominating Caden, and we encouraged them to apply ... I know that Moss is always looking to help students with special needs in areas where the families can't afford or the school is unable to supply."
Along with the three-wheel bike, any additional funds could go toward an iPad for Caden to use at home along with the special apps used for his education.
"The goal is independence for him," Bertram said. "We'd like to get him that joy we see when he rides his bike through the hallways here at his home, as well."
The Moss annual garden tour is scheduled for Saturday, June 28. Tickets are on sale now at On The Wall and Hy-Vee for $15. Tickets also will be available on the day of the tour for $18.