MILLINOCKET, Maine – If he keeps going, Matthew Jamieson will have some monster-size arms.
A 17-year-old Stearns High School junior, Jamieson isn’t one to brag, said his mother, Peggy Jamieson. Jamieson lives with legs paralyzed by spinal bifida, a developmental and congenital spinal disorder, so he has been riding a Top End Excelerator Handcycle, a seven-speed three-wheeler with hand pedals built into its steering wheel.
“His muscles have certainly, I don’t know what the term is, but he has definitely bulked up since he has been doing this,” Peggy Jamieson said Wednesday. “His shirts are getting too small. He will need new clothing pretty soon.”
His latest goal: to earn an Eagle Scout merit badge by cycling 50 miles this weekend.
Jamieson, who could not be reached for comment on Wednesday, began training in July. He has increased the pace dramatically over the last seven weeks and has done two 10-, 15- and 25-mile rides each as part of the badge requirements, Jamieson said.
“I think it is wonderful. He is amazing,” Peggy Jamieson said. “It certainly shows his determination. It has given him yet another opportunity to show that no matter what abilities you have, just because you might have to do something different doesn’t mean you don’t do it at all.”
Jane McGillicuddy, a neighbor who has known the Jamieson family since Matthew was 2, is pleased but not terribly surprised at the ambition behind his cycling efforts.
“He is a people person. He likes to chat and is easy to engage in conversation,” she said. “He’s involved in his church and you see him at a lot of school events. He has always just played it positive. He sees his abilities. He has a can-do personality. If he has something he wants to do, he finds a way to make it happen.”
Jamieson’s tricycle came from money left over from a regionwide “Keep Matt Mobile” fundraising effort that collected more than $12,000 and bought his family a van with a wheelchair lift almost three years ago. The three-wheeler is fine, but the van, which was used when it was bought, is starting to wear, McGillicuddy said.
His supporters are interested in raising money to buy him a wheelchair van equipped with hand accelerator and brake controls to allow him the freedom teens typically enjoy. McGillicuddy encouraged anyone interested in donating to Jamieson to send checks or money orders to “Keep Matt Mobile,” care of Katahdin Federal Credit Union, 1000 Central St.,Millinocket 04462.