background img

There is No “I” in Team…..But I Did Find Me

posted by:

Guest blogger Heather Simms-Schichtel is a parent advocate, freelance writer and full-time mom to Samantha a precious girl who has an undiagnosed genetic condition.

Ironic that as I write this we are in Children’s Hospital; our unsought home-away-from-home. I’m watching over my daughter Samantha as I wait for my husband to deliver my bike. Two weeks and counting until the Courage Classic, I need a training ride.

I signed up for the ride in February. My bike was propped sadly against a wall in the garage; dusty with two flat tires. I had a lot of work to do but I had time. July was a very long, long way away……

Spring brought two hospitalizations for Samantha; more procrastination. May came about and I realized I only had two months to get my butt in gear.

Samantha’s team started to form. As people started to fundraise and I realized this was much more than a ride through the mountains. This was a ride for many personal causes. This was a chance for people to do something for my daughter, a chance to ride in her honor. Samantha’s Grandpa Jim wrote a heartfelt testimonial on his fundraiser site.

“I ride so that someday my granddaughter Samantha can ride”

So that someday my little girl can ride a bike. Well, if anyone could make it happen, it would be the members of our medical team. The people committed to helping our daughter.

Since Samantha first entered the doors of Children’s Hospital, we have compiled a team that can best meet the needs of our daughter. A team of medical professionals, therapists, family and friends all committed to helping Samantha.

It takes a village; or in our case, a small metropolis.

Samantha’s medical problems still remain “undiagnosed” despite many, many tests. Seizures, low muscle tone, global delays, infections and a feeding tube require that we see ten different specialty departments at Children’s and that these specialists work closely together.

It’s our team…Team Samantha.

We didn’t sign up to be members of this specialized medical group but we are grateful that they are here. They have continued to look for a solution to our daughter’s problems; discussing options, strategies and ways to improve her quality of life. As parents we are eternally grateful.

This is why I started our team, Summits for Samantha, with the Courage Classic; to give back a little something. That part was easy, that part was a no-brainer. Of course we will support the hospital that has saved our daughter’s life…..time and time again.

In May….this seemed like a good plan. Training and riding seemed like something I could manage on top of being Samantha’s mom.

I didn’t however, plan on her being sick and hospitalized the month of June. I didn’t plan on having to cancel rides, battle hospital fatigue and a sick little girl. It made me sad to think that I would have to drop out of the ride because she was not doing well. Alas, another event we would have to cancel; another testament to our variable, uncertain life.

Au contraire, mon frère.

What I found during this stay is a team beyond our medical group. I found a team that cares about me too. A husband who brings my bike down and takes on rounds with the doctors while I tackle my three hour ride. I found doctors who ask me consistently how my training is going and nurses who encourage me to get out.

Through Children’s I have found a team that supports all of us. Because let’s face it, being in the hospital stinks.

Being in the hospital 80+ days out of your three-year-old daughter’s life really stinks…..even if Children’s is a state-of-the-art, best-of-the-best hospital with really cool X-Box machines in every room, my heart still breaks every time we are admitted.

It’s not about the place, it’s about the people. I am grateful to a team that listens to us, a team that cares deeply for our family, and a team that recognizes that Mama needs a bike ride.

As my husband steps into the room he eyes my attire and laughs….bike shorts and jerseys just aren’t typical at the hospital.

“You’re itchin’ to get out aren’t you?”

“Feeding is at two, meds have been given and our nurses’ name is Kelly. I have my cell phone.”

“You won’t need it…..go”

I ride…I turn my back from the hospital. Ironically, I found someone during these rides. I found a woman who is strong; who likes the sound of her heart beating when she is doing a hard climb. A woman who loves her daughter dearly but also loves the feeling of clearing her head as she leaves the hospital for a long ride; a woman who can briefly shed oxygen tanks, feeding tubes and I.V. meds for a little while because she has a very, very good team.

I found a very, very grateful me.

If you would like to donate to Heather’s ride for Samantha ride, you may do so at

You may also like
  • comment avatar Amy July 15, 2009

    Hi Heather,

    Loved reading your post! I am inspired by your strength to continue with the ride. It is so much easier to be brought down by the hospital stay, but rather you continued and found something great in return. I hope everything goes smoothly and have a great ride.

    I also wanted to share with you that you and Samantha aren’t alone when it comes to the undiagnosed situation. There are many families going through similar situations. My daughter is 13 and has had medical issues since birth; we have yet to figure out what is affecting her in so many ways.


  • comment avatar Amber's Crazy Bloggin' Canuck July 15, 2009

    This is such an inspirational post. Because if we don’t fight for our children, who will? Best of luck with your race and prayers for sweet Samantha.

  • comment avatar Holly July 15, 2009

    First Samantha is the cutest thing! Good for you getting out and not only doing something for you, but working for her cure as well. Also, nothing beats hearing GOOD things about the medical staff, I hate that only the bad stuff makes the news. I’ll pass the word along regarding Team Samantha!

  • comment avatar Lori in Denver July 15, 2009

    I love this post for so many reasons. First, your fierce love for Samantha. Second, the team you have put together to help her. Third, your ability to take care of yourself amid the biggest caretaking situation there is. And lastly, that you found yourself, your strong, resolute Self.

    Best wishes to you on all counts. I hope you’ll guest post again with updates.

  • comment avatar Cheryl July 15, 2009

    Way to go, biker mom. I love how you put things in this blog, and wish along with the grandpa that Sam’ could ride with you. I know she does in your heart, and Team Samantha is truly amazing. Keep the heart pumping and butt in the saddle…I am pulling for you all.

    Your loving neighbors care, also, see you this weekend.

  • comment avatar JoAnn July 15, 2009

    What a great story! I can only imagine what you’re going through, and my heart goes out to you. It’s wonderful that you’ve established such great “teams” for Samantha, and that by doing so, you’ve been able to tap into your strength. Good luck with everything!

  • comment avatar Heather S. July 15, 2009

    Thank you so much…..everyone 🙂 Ya’ll make me teary reading these great comments. Good people here.

  • comment avatar Fay July 15, 2009

    What a wonderfull heartfelt account of you and Sam.
    She is special and lets not forget that is your tittle too.
    Your story is uplifting for anyone and everyone who has a heart.

  • comment avatar Sandy July 15, 2009

    A wonderful, touching post. I will be thinking about you and Samantha.

  • comment avatar Maryjo Morgan July 16, 2009

    Way to go, Heather! Your are truly a “steel magnolia” – all lovely and delicate on the outside, but reinforced with a will of steel. You and Bart are the perfect fit for Samantha … your passionate commitment to her is just what she needs. Ride, Mama, Ride!
    PS: I just went back and deleted about three “!” … it is hard not to get all jazzed up, reading your well-crafted words about a deep truth. You humble me endlessly.

  • comment avatar Pat July 17, 2009

    Heather – Thank you for all that you’ve written and are doing. You help me remember why I find working for Children’s so important. We are all (even behind the scenes) a team – there for Samantha and all the children seeking care here.