Shop builds bike to support girl in her fight against non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
|JASON MILLER / CHRONICLE
|Jim Fekete displays the chopper he built to sell for Ashleigh Martin.
WELLINGTON — It all started innocently, when their vibrant young daughter trotted up and said, “I have a bump on my neck.’’
Certainly, it couldn’t be much, her parents thought, heading to the doctors just to be certain.
Price: $100 each.
Availability: Only 500 tickets will be sold.
Can be purchased at:
The drawing will be held when all tickets have been sold.
But Frank and Sue Martin soon learned differently. Their daughter, Ashleigh Martin, now 8, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
A year of chemotherapy seemed to put Ashleigh on the right track — that is, until May 2006, when she began suffering severe headaches.
The cancer, her family learned, had spread to her brain. They held out hope that radiation treatment would knock it down, but a seizure on the first day of treatment left Ashleigh in a coma for six weeks — a coma that robbed her of her most basic physical and mental functions when she awoke.
Ashleigh had to learn to walk and talk again. She was forced to skip all of second grade to instead work with a team of physical, occupational and speech therapists at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital who helped her relearn what she’d forgotten — such as her ABCs.
It took a year for Ashleigh to begin walking and talking again.
“She is tough as nails,” Sue Martin said.
Still, though, there are lingering problems. The radiation treatment left Ashleigh with no skull on the left side of her head, which means there’s the constant concern of infection.
“If you push on the top of her head, it’s soft, just tissue,” Sue Martin said.
The titanium mesh covering Ashleigh’s brain also has caused problems. The plate opened up in August, forcing doctors to work again to craft a skull for her. Many grafts have been taken from her body to help do so.
Through it all, Ashleigh and her family have remained positive despite the emotional and financial strain. Sue Martin no longer works — she home-schools Ashleigh and takes her to doctors appointments — driving from Wellington to Cleveland on a regular basis.
After Jay and Lisa Kibort learned about Ashleigh from an employee of Ashleigh’s former school, they wanted to help. The Kiborts, who run WAUGS Inc., a machine-shop in Spencer, called their friends Jim and Jo Feterle, who own Crooked River Choppers in Litchfield.
“We can’t guide the outcome of her disease, but we can help to ease the financial burden,” Jay Kibort said.
The two couples decided to team up and create a bike to raffle off to benefit Ashleigh. WAUGS Inc. covered the cost, and Crooked River Choppers assembled the custom, street-legal chopper, Jim Feterle said.
Ashleigh thinks the motorcycle is pretty darn cool. She just wishes she could do more than just sit on it, she said.
“It’s neat!” Ashleigh said, explaining matter-of-factly that her parents and siblings, Nicholas, 12, and Jillian, 10, have helped her through all the hard times.
“The doctors thought I would die, and I’m still alive.’’
Contact Amy McLysaght at 329-7155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.