Newark resident Lauren Byrne is a vivacious 22-year-old woman with a heart of gold.
She is kind, she is passionate, she loves animals and is probably the most patient person I have ever met.
She also happens to be my best friend. I consider myself one lucky girl, to have this amazing force as my closest confidant. Genuine, talented, wise beyond her years and beautiful are all words I would use when describing her to others.
She also happens to be in a wheel chair from a swimming pool accident in 2005 when she was only 15 years old. She is now quadriplegic. This quality, however, does not define her.
Lauren is a fierce and impactful person. She loves hard, and plays hard. No really — she will kick your ass in rugby… also known as Murder Ball.
Every week, Lauren travels all over the bay area to play rugby with her competition team on defense. She has been fierce on the court for more than two years, participating in tournaments in Reno.
However, she has the burden of depending on other people to get her there.
Because vehicles equipped for Lauren to operate are so expensive, relying on others and public transportation has been her only option.
Despite her situation, Lauren has never wavered when it came to her positive attitude and has always maintained her drive for the future.
Her brother John described it best when he said “Lauren had a lot to overcome. More than I or almost anyone else may ever have to overcome in their entire life. It was hard for me to see some of the struggles. It was hard not knowing how to help. Today, I am in disbelief to see where Lauren was then, and where she is now. She worked very hard to achieve many goals.”
Lauren’s college career is coming to a very important turning point. She is about to complete all of her pre-requisites and now must decide where to continue her
Transportation is a huge factor in this decision. While her exact aspirations are still up in the air, she knows she would like to work with children. She worked at in Newark as a recreation leader for two years.
It was her job to keep the kids active and that experience distilled an importance
of being physically active, and how important it is for kids. She would like to work with children, primarily in education. Her idea is to incorporate service dogs into a classroom setting.
While she is still figuring out which school is a perfect fit, the biggest factor is location and how she will get to class each day.
It was because of this factor that her older brother John came up with the idea for Lauren’s Ride.
After posting a Facebook post on April 20 asking for advice on how to put together a bike ride to raise money for his sister, John started to collect valuable information and volunteers.
The very next day a close family friend, Lyn Bratton had bought the rights and created a website: laurensride.org, where people could view Lauren’s incredible story, see John’s bike path, and donate to his cause. By May 9, the website had raised more than $4,000 just from friends and family promoting the website on Facebook.
John’s bike ride from San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge to the Brooklyn Bridge is set for September.
Follow this blog, as I cover this amazing journey from start to finish.
Stay tuned for a Q-and-A session with the mastermind behind this journey, John Byrne, and get more information on Lauren’s Ride as it progresses.
Visit laurensride.org and make a donation, figure out where you can join John on his ride, and get more information on this incredible family.
Learn more about Lauren Byrne in the YouTube video above.