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Riders rally on behalf of Aiden Shea

Bike enthusiasts take off Sept. 12 on a ride to benefit Aiden Shea. David Samson/The Forum1 / 2
Family, friends and volunteers helped out at Solid Performance for the benefit motorcycle ride for Aiden Shea. David Samson/The Forum2 / 2

Family members describe little Aiden Shea as their 'miracle baby.'

Easy to understand why - after all, the little guy has already endured more difficulties during his first few months, than many people experience in a lifetime.

Born Aug. 6 to Chris and Jill Shea of West Fargo, Aiden suffered acute liver failure from a viral infection just as he was to be discharged from MeritCare, Fargo. He was immediately flown to Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh, where he underwent a liver transplant Aug. 17, receiving a quarter of his father's liver.

Since that time, he has been recuperating and at the present time is doing so well that he was taken out of neonatal intensive care late last week and moved to the transplant floor, indeed a good sign.

All the while, Aiden has been surrounded by the comfort and love of family and friends, with mom Jill at his side constantly, set to remain in Pittsburgh until Aiden is well enough to return home. His dad, Chris, has returned home to work, but travels back and forth to see Aiden intermittently along with Aiden's older sister, Lauren.

With all hardship comes good, and one hugely positive outcome of Aiden's illness has been the outpouring of support and the banding together of family and friends to help out the Shea family in any way they can.

Such was the case on Saturday, Sept. 12, with proceeds from the annual Terry Aalgaard Memorial Ride (Fall Fest), sponsored and organized by Solid Performance, 3931 37th Ave. S., Fargo, donated to the Shea family to help defray medical and other expenses.

In the past, the funds have been donated to the Roger Maris Cancer Center, but this year organizers decided to contribute 80 percent of the monies raised to the Shea family and 20 percent to Merit Care. Brady Larkin, co-owner and general manager of Solid Performance and organizer of the ride, said this marked the sixth year for the ride that started out as a benefit event for the Roger Maris Cancer Center in memory of Terry Aalgaard, a good friend and fellow motorcycle rider, who died after a bout with cancer. Larkin said the recipient focus shifted this year when it was decided it would be appropriate to help their friends the Sheas, adding next year, the emphasis will return to the Roger Maris Cancer Center.

Approximately 225 bikes (300 people) turned out in full force for the ride, enjoying all the stops along the way, ultimately raising $4,500 for little Aiden.

Larkin said he is extremely appreciative to everyone who supported the Fall Fest which always conveniently begins and ends at Solid Performance. With about 1,000 people coming through the door for the Saturday evening festivities, which included a meal and music from four live bands, all arranged by Ryan Beckman of JT Cigaros, Larkin said he couldn't have been happier or more pleased. "We had a great turnout and it was definitely another knockout year like every other. We were fortunate to have good weather, be able to raise money, and spend quality time with a lot of good friends that helped to bring it all together and pull it off successfully."

Several members of the Shea's extended family were also in attendance, including Aiden's dad, Chris, who was their for a part of the activity, with several other family members participating in the ride and enjoying the fun and also helping out the little guy's cause by selling 'Mighty Aiden' T-shirts, 'donate for life' bracelets, and accepting donations on his behalf.

Aiden's cousin, Kristi Persons, also in attendance and lending a hand wherever she could, said that thanks to the power of prayer and everybody pulling together "the whole family feels so blessed that Aiden is going to be okay. When something happens in our family everybody comes together, and it's pretty amazing," Kristi said. "And when Aiden comes home we are going to have such a celebration. I can't wait, he truly is our miracle baby."

Dakota Medical Foundation is providing matching funds up to $5,000 for the Aiden Shea Benefit Fund. Donations are also being accepted at any Gate City Bank location, by stopping in or mailing your contribution to: Gate City Bank, 1501 S. University Drive, Fargo, ND 58103.

Anyone wishing to follow Aiden's story can do so by visiting and typing in aidenshea.