People regularly hear the reminders to wear a bike helmet. A boy who beat the odds is a living example of why it’s so important.
Keaton Bowden is living a very different life because of an accident on his bicycle. On Wednesday night, the 14-year-old competed in his first Special Olympics swim meet. It was a big achievement that he was able to be there at all.
"The doctors said I could not be able to walk, but I proved them wrong. I am walking,” Bowden said.
His father, Jay Bowden, was captivated by the experience.
"To see him swimming is just a miracle," he said.
In June 2004, Keaton was riding his bicycle near the family’s home in Buffalo, Minn. He was not wearing a helmet when he was hit by a pickup truck. He was left with a traumatic brain injury and doctors weren’t sure that he’d live.
“I was really scared. I didn’t think he was going to make it," said Amanda Bowden, Keaton's mother.
"It’s been hard on everybody and the youngest brother has had to step up to be an older brother sort of, because he has to watch him and make sure he doesn’t get in to trouble," Amanda Bowden said.
Keaton knows he’s lucky to be alive, and he now appreciates the little things.
Smiling and giggling, he said, “Having fun makes me laugh.”
He will keep working on his strokes, and all the other sports he’s determined to play again. He wonders if life would be different if he had strapped on a helmet that day.
He now has a message for others: “Wear any type of helmet you’ve got.”
This weekend, the Brain Injury Association of Minnesota is hosting the Xtreme Safety Fest at the Mall of America.
The event will offer BMX performances, family activities and prize drawings. Low cost helmets are available. You can also buy or bring a new helmet to the event for those in need.