Julia Prendergast adjusts Tyme Fiedorczyk’s collar as she celebrates a powerful body throughout a subject journey with the Capacity Middle to go bowling at Pinboy’s in Virginia Seashore, Va. in July. (Stephen M. Katz/The Virginian-Pilot/TNS)
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — On the bowling alley, Julia Prendergast rigorously labored the joystick on her pal’s wheelchair, positioning her perpendicular to the lane.
She brushed a wisp of hair off Tyme Fiedorczyk’s face and adjusted her glasses. Tyme has cerebral palsy, which impairs her muscle coordination; to speak, she should sort into an digital machine; to maneuver freely, she will need to have help.
The bowling ball sat atop a ramp to her left, and he or she swiped at it. After a number of makes an attempt, she hit it, sending it spiraling down the lane.
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Because the ball rolled, her fan membership — associates from her grownup day camp, gathered at Pinboy’s — began cheering behind her:
“Tyme! Tyme! Tyme!”
Because the ball spun nearer to the pins, her associates waved their arms, yelling on the ball to maneuver proper.
“Pivot, pivot, pivot!”
Seven pins fell.
Julia smiled and leaned over her pal’s chair.
“Three pins left. You bought it.”
She lined Tyme up once more to complete the body and took a step again to observe, wait and cheer.
Friendship results in caregiving
A glance. A contact. A coy smile. An inside joke.
That’s all Julia, 21, and Tyme, 25, want to precise their ideas to one another.
Julia has been Tyme’s caregiver for the previous 12 months. However they’ve been associates for 15.
They met on the Capacity Middle of Virginia (previously Cerebral Palsy of Virginia), a nonprofit geared toward serving to folks with completely different skills lead pleased and productive lives.
Julia was 6 when she first volunteered as a peer buddy. Tyme was 10 and attending her first summer time camp.
Julia’s mom, Michelle, is the chief director of the Virginia Seashore-based program and had a sense that her daughter would hit it off with Tyme. They did.
Julia invited Tyme to her birthday events, to film nights, to buy groceries.
Tyme invited Julia to observe her surf with Life Rolls On and cheer her on on the Virginia Miss Wonderful pageants. Julia even positioned the crown on Tyme when she received the Nationwide Miss Wonderful 2020 Junior Miss Pageant in Nashville, Tenn.
They each graduated from highschool in 2019 — Julia from Kellam in Virginia Seashore and Tyme from Indian River in Chesapeake — and shortly after, their relationship took on new that means.
Tyme’s mom, Kim, requested Julia if she can be Tyme’s caregiver. And not using a query, Julia accepted.
The association began out at two days every week and progressed to full-time final summer time.
“I made a decision I might be along with her day by day,” Julia mentioned, throughout an interview at Tyme’s dwelling in Chesapeake. “And I instructed her to get used to it.”
Tyme, sitting beside her, erupted with sounds of glee.
Caring for Tyme
At 10 a.m. 5 days every week, Julia arrives at Tyme’s dwelling to assist her costume, join her communication machine to her wheelchair, and “be sure that Miss Useless seems to be presentable.”
“Once I inform folks what I do, I say caregiving because the quick reply as a result of not everybody will get it,” Julia mentioned. “It’s simpler to say I’m going to my finest pal Tyme’s home.”
Julia feeds her. She drives her to the grownup day program on the heart and to bodily remedy.
“To have somebody in our dwelling, somebody we trusted and somebody who knew Tyme and was snug along with her was comforting,” Kim Fiedorczyk mentioned. “Sooner or later, I can’t bear in mind when, I handed her the keys to the van and mentioned, ‘You guys go.’”
Going, doing, residing
Kim and Eric Fiedorczyk at all times made positive their daughter tried new experiences — a lot of them centered on water, the place she will be able to transfer extra freely.
She’s gone water snowboarding and tubing. She’s surfed in Puerto Rico and was scheduled to go to Hawaii earlier than the pandemic hit.
She enjoys swimming within the household’s yard pool, a present 10 years in the past by a nonprofit, Yard Havens.
She loves indoor skydiving at iFly in Virginia Seashore and has gone tandem dangle gliding and downhill snow snowboarding utilizing a bi-ski.
Julia is a eager runner and usually prefers working solo, however began signing up for the Capacity Middle’s 5K races with Tyme, who sat in a loaner push race chair.
They ran the Surf-n-Santa 5-miler in 2019 and signed up for the Shamrock Half Marathon in March 2020 solely to see it canceled due to the pandemic.
When races began again up, the duo have been fast to enroll. The Depraved 10K in October 2021 was subsequent, adopted by the Norfolk Harbor Half Marathon in November.
They stopped with a half-mile left. Julia helped Tyme climb right into a gait coach in order that she may stroll the final half-mile. Tyme had labored laborious to cross the end line strolling.
“That was a extremely cool second.”
As Julia recalled the race, Tyme gently tapped a button along with her knee on her pill to explain what strolling felt like.
Weekly coaching with a bodily therapist at Previous Dominion College helps her enhance her power.
The hope is that she’s going to at some point do 1-mile runs in her gait coach.
In March, the chums set off to Orlando, Fla., for runDisney, which contains a 5K, 10K and 10-mile theme park race.
Julia has to tempo herself as she pushes the 30-pound chair plus Tyme’s 105-pound body.
“It’s laborious, however straightforward,” she mentioned. “It’s good to have one thing to carry onto as a result of self-doubt can actually kick your ass, however you’re transferring, so it’s transferring with you.”
Julia and Tyme plan to journey for different races, together with the DC Half Marathon in September. Additionally they plan to start out a fundraiser for a brand new foldable working chair.
All of the whereas, they’re pleased to know they’ve one another to depend on and inspire.
As a result of that’s what associates do.
“She is sensible, witty and intelligent. I inform folks she’s similar to everybody else,” Julia mentioned. “As a lot as I do for Tyme, it’s at all times given again to me. My days at all times are usually higher after I see Tyme.”
‘An ideal sport’
On the bowling alley on this current summer time day, Tyme waited as a volunteer put the ball again on the ramp. She nudged the ball and it rolled slowly.
Julia may inform what was going to occur. She positioned her palms over her pal’s eyes. Solely two pins fell. Yet another and it might have been a spare.
She eliminated her palms so her pal may see.
“You gotta step your sport up,” Julia mentioned.
Then it was her flip.
She took a ball and stood on the prime of the lane.
She let it fly, and the ball rolled and sailed into the gutter. She turned again to Tyme and laughed.
With a faucet, faucet, faucet of her knee, Tyme typed on her machine.
Julia glanced on the display.
“You suck,” she learn.
“Effectively,” she instructed Tyme. “You don’t suck.”
© 2022 The Virginian-Pilot
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