Lily Ford, 8, doesn’t let anything stand in her way – least of all cerebral palsy.

Meet Lily: 2020 GABR Star

December 9, 2019

Registration is now open for the Great American Bike Race (GABR). Visit gabr.sanfordhealth.org today to reserve your team’s spot for the April 25, 2020, race at Legacy High School.

For 8-year-old Lily Ford, nothing beats showing off her dance moves in front of an audience. She loves music and performing and doesn’t let anything stand in her way — least of all her cerebral palsy.

“There are things I don’t know if she’ll be able to do, but she just proves me wrong,” said Lily’s mom, Nicole Ford. “I want her to continue to strive for independence and get to do all the normal, typical things other girls her age are doing.”

And Lily does it all with a good sense of humor and wit far beyond her years.

Lily and her twin brother, Cash, were born 10 weeks early at just 30 weeks. While Cash progressed normally and has no long-term effects, Nicole, a pediatric occupational therapist, started noticing the signs of cerebral palsy in Lily when she was just 3 months old.

With regular treatment at Sanford Children’s Pediatric Therapies, Lily has made great progress. She has learned to accomplish daily tasks like eating on her own, gained strength for changing positions and can now walk with the assistance of a walker.

Every day, she’s able to live more fully and independently, thanks in part to GABR supporters.

“There are a lot of things a child like Lily needs that aren’t covered by insurance,” Nicole said. “The funds from this event are a game changer for so many kids and families.”

GABR funds have helped the Fords purchase an adaptive van, a manual wheelchair for times when Lily’s power wheelchair is too big for the setting, a special activity chair made for eating and playing, a bathing chair and most recently, a bathroom lift.

The lift was crucial for the family as Lily got too big to carry, and the bathing chair has given her independence to go to the bathroom and shower with minimal assistance. Previously, she was completely dependent on her parents for bathing.

Without this support, Nicole doesn’t know if Lily would be doing as well as she is today.

“GABR has helped give her the independence she needs to thrive,” Nicole said. “The equipment we’ve been able to get helps keep her healthy and her muscle tone manageable. I think that’s part of why she hasn’t needed any surgeries, because we are able to keep her in good, functional positions.”

Nicole, who began riding in GABR 16 years ago with a team of pediatric therapists, also has seen the event evolve.

“It’s great to see how much it’s grown over time,” Nicole said. “To see that it’s become a household name in the community is just awesome.”

And Lily, the performer, can’t wait to see her family, friends and community come out to support her.

“She loves the attention, and it gives her something to look forward to each year,” Nicole said. “It’s all for the kids and kids like her.”

By supporting GABR, you help kids like Lily continue to dance through all life’s struggles.


GABR 2020

  • When: Saturday, April 25
  • Where: Legacy High School, Bismarck
  • More details: Register today at gabr.sanfordhealth.org.