Matthew Simon was just 15 when he was diagnosed with leukemia.
The student athlete was used to rowing and working out every day, only to be suddenly confined to the pediatric oncology unit of his hospital in Maryland. Naturally, it didn’t take long for the teen to get bored. But with some help from his care team, he found the perfect solution!
They brought a virtual reality exercise bike into Matthew’s room so he could use it whenever he felt up to it. He quickly realized that even though doctors used to advise patients against exerting themselves during treatment, working out lifted his spirits and actually gave him more energy.
“I felt like I was helping myself stay healthy,” he said.
Matthew has since recovered and is now a college student at the University of Virginia. Of course, he’ll never forget his time in the hospital, which is why he’s on a mission to give other kids an opportunity to exercise through the nonprofit he started.
Bike To Fight’s goal is to put an Expresso Go bike in pediatric and young adult oncology wards nationwide. At $7,000 each, the machines are pricey, which is exactly why Matthew’s work is so important!
So far, he’s placed five bikes in hospitals ranging from Virginia to Illinois, and the responses have been overwhelmingly positive! The kids who use them feel more energetic and see an improvement in their mental outlook. Better still, their doctors hope they continue the healthy habits they’re learning long after they leave the hospital.
As for Matthew, he isn’t forgetting to take care of himself! “I exercise for the same reasons I did when I was undergoing treatment: to relieve stress and stay healthy,” he said. “And to ensure there are no residual side effects from my treatment.”
What an incredible way to make a difference! We applaud Matthew for taking this wonderful initiative to help others.