By Tori Mason
AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Keithan Holiday always knew his son was different, and not because the doctors told him so.
“One day Sēbian came to me and said, ‘Dad. I only got a B in this class.’ I told him that’s proficient! He said, ‘I know, but that’s not going to get me into college!’ He wasn’t even in junior high,” said Keithan about his son.
Sēbian’s mind was one of the few things muscular myopathy couldn’t take from him.
“He was able to do everything that a normal kid could do,” said Keithan. But everything changed when Sēbian turned 3 years old.
Sēbian’s health declined quickly. A rare form of muscular myopathy caused severe scoliosis, which prevented him from walking on his own. He went from crutches to being wheelchair bound.
“He’d tell you ‘I’ve been driving for a long time!’” laughed his father.
Doctors told them every birthday until 9 years old was a blessing. After 11, a miracle.
“They stopped telling us. I stopped asking. They’re not God,” said Keithan. “So we just started to live like there was no ending.”
He spent half his savings showing his son the world, and the rest helping him change it.
Keithan was working as a fitness instructor. One day, he took Sēbian to work with him and there wasn’t anything handicap accessible for him to do there.
In that moment, Sēbian had a vision: A place where all people – young, old, able, disabled – could do things together without feeling like they’re different.
“He told me what he wanted and that’s what I did. He was the mastermind, and I was the worker bee,” said Keithan.
Five years later, 16-year-old Sēbian opened his own rec center. And seven months after that, he was gone.
“He’s looking down on me, and he knows that I do not want to disappoint him,” said Keithan.
He did everything in his power to make sure he wouldn’t.
With community donations and money from his savings, Sēbian’s dad transformed an empty space with a few machines into the most handicap accessible fitness area in Colorado.
Sēbian’s Rec Center has five pieces of exercise equipment that can convert to be handicap accessible, more than any other gym in the state.
“Each piece is like $10,000 to 14,000,” said Keithan.
Sēb’s Rec also offers music lessons, massage therapy, tutoring and art. There are more plans for the future, but plans cost money and so does rent.
“Our revenue was nothing at first,” said Keithan, “Less than $200 a month. It was like that until June.”
While membership is growing, the business is still heavily funded by Keithan.
“I don’t mind it because we really are helping people.”
Keithan hopes to get 500 people to donate $10 a month for a year to help him with leasing and utility costs. He also hopes to, one day, receive a grant so he can offer free memberships for the disabled.
Or as Sēbian would say, “people like me.”
“If Sēbian walked in here and saw what everything has become, what do you think he would say?” asked CBS4’s Tori Mason.
“I think my son would say, ‘Dad, we better hurry up and make this work so it can be bigger!’”
To learn more about Sēb’s Rec Center visit www.sebsrec.org.
It is located in the plaza at 1710 S. Buckley Rd. in Aurora.