Strider’s climb

He has traveled so far, from near-fatal abuse to here, invisible among Maine’s poorest, in the care of grandparents who have little left to give but love — and just enough of that. Yet somehow Strider is climbing. ( Read the story )
1
Strider reached to grab a sapling, revealing a scar that snaked up his stomach and a dimple that marked the place where a feeding tube had once been. He was climbing a tree at the first of several campgrounds that would be home for his family over the summer. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
2
Lanette Grant, Strider’s grandmother, stared out the camper's doorway as Gallagher, Strider’s brother, rested beside her. She had been receiving text messages from a neighbor who was keeping their horses until they found a place to live under the condition that the Grants provide hay. They hadn't been able to deliver any and now the neighbor wanted to know when they would provide it. A day later Lanette was forced to sign the horses over to state animal welfare officers. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
3
When Strider was two and a half years old, his mother's boyfriend, Justin Roy, took him to a shed and beat him. He underwent three surgeries in four days to repair his torn intestine and other damage that doctors later would testify they typically saw in high-speed car crashes. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
4
After the beating, Strider and Gallagher were sent to live with their paternal grandmother and grandfather. They fell behind on the rent, and after two years of not paying, their landlord kicked them out. With nowhere else to go, the family piled into a camper and began to bounce from campsite to campsite. Inside the cramped camper, Strider pulled his pajamas over his head as he changed in his grandparents’ bedroom. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
5
Strider carried gallon jugs of water to Lanette after filling them from a spigot behind the camper. She needed the water to wash dishes and bathe the boys after warming it on the stove. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
6
Gallagher sat in the center of a circle his brother, Strider, etched around him in the dirt. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
7
Always full of energy, Gallagher wore a backpack stuffed with small weights, a novel therapy designed to calm small children who otherwise bounced themselves into trouble and injury. Had he been dropped on his head as an infant? Doctors suspected some sort of calamity had taken place during his time with his biological mother. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
8
Strider held out a small lantern as he played in the woods outside of the camper. In spite of everything, he was imaginative and playful, running through the woods and climbing trees most evenings until his grandmother called him in for dinner. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
9
After two years of not paying the rent, the Grants’ landlord gave them 30 days to pack their things and leave. On the night of the eviction, Strider and Gallagher were left in the back of the car while Lanette and Larry moved their possessions into a rented semi-truck parked on a lot. Tired and acting out, Gallagher bit Strider, who recoiled and pressed himself against the car window. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
10
As Larry and Lanette packed up their belongings, Strider wandered into his bedroom and peered at his things. Much of what was left in the room would be forfeited, along with his bicycle and many of the family's other possessions. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
11
Strider swings from the frame of an old piece of furniture behind the mobile home as the adults are busy packing inside. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
12
As the night went on it became clear that they were not going to be able to take all of their possessions with them. Michael's fiancee, Ashly (left) stood in the doorway with Lanette as they took a break from packing up the family's belongings on the night of the eviction. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
13
Larry and Lanette packed for hours until daylight ran out and they had nothing to see by but the car headlights. The landlord had cut the power and put locks on the electrical boxes in an attempt to force them off of the property. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
14
On the night of the eviction the boys climbed into a rusted Ford sunk in the horse field. Strider held broken automotive hoses to his eyes like a pair of binoculars. He tipped his head upward. “What’s on the moon?” Strider asked. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
15
Gallagher is bathed in the red of his grandparents’ car's taillights as they turn it around to shine the headlights more clearly on the trailer so they can pack the last of their possessions on the night of their eviction. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
16
Almost two months after being evicted, Lanette and Larry stood outside District Court in South Paris after a judge denied their request that he order the landlord to return the belongings they had left behind in the mobile home. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
17
Strider's biological father, Michael, was visiting for the weekend. Not wanting Strider to have to hear about the defeat at court, Michael took Strider fishing at a pond that skirted the latest campground they had moved to. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
18
At lunch Strider tucked himself into a cubby as he nibbled on a snack, leaving the rest of the food the school lunch ladies had given him untouched. It was grab bag day, a dollar bought a brown paper bag of goodies, like pencils and erasers. Strider didn't have a dollar. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
19
Full of energy, Gallagher hung from the bunk bed he shared with Strider as he shimmied back and forth along the beam inside the cramped camper. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
20
Lanette often lamented that she and Larry weren't able to be grandparents to the boys because they had to play the role of Mom and Dad. But on this afternoon the sun broke through the trees and for a carefree moment she and Strider played together. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
21
On a warm summer evening Strider sat beside a campfire with a stick. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
22
At Strider's sixth birthday, Lanette and her mother went to Walmart to pick up his birthday cake. They were gone for more than two hours. Back at the campsite Strider dug his hands into his pockets and waited for them to return. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
23
Strider's great-grandmother gave him a balloon and told him to pop it. "I don't feel like it." Strider whispered. "Come on Strider, pop it." Lanette said. Larry took the balloon from Strider, held it over his head and poked it with a knife. Six rolled up dollar bills and confetti scattered to the ground. "Find 'em," his great-grandmother called. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
24
Strider carries his towel and pajamas to the pay shower at the campsite. Michael, his biological father, was down for a visit and was taking they boys to wash up before bed. But they couldn't get the showers to work and the boys ended up having to be bathed with a washcloth from water warmed on the camper's stove. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
25
Strider walked towards the camper with a flower pressed between his thumb and forefinger for Lanette, a conciliatory gesture after she yelled at him for wetting the bed. His therapist had explained that his bed-wetting was a response to trauma, either the unfolding upset in their lives, or some resurrecting memory. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
26
After months of searching for a new place to live, a Craigslist post finally turned up a home they could afford. Anna Cunningham, of Skowhegan, arrived at the family's new home with beds for the boys and couches and chairs for the family and Lanette grabbed her and pulled her in for a grateful hug. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
27
The landlord at the new place had offered to cut the grass before the Grants moved in, but Larry insisted on doing it himself, saying he would relish the chance to mow a lawn after what they had been through. Three-quarters of the way through mowing the front lawn the lawnmower broke and Larry was forced to drag it around back to see if he had the parts to fix it. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
28
Rimmed in the blue light of a television screen, Strider sat on the naked mattress and looked out the window as he awoke for the first time in his family's new home. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
29
“Medicine!” Lanette called as she pulled out the plastic bin of the boys’ medicines. Strider extended his hand for his morning meds. “We haven’t been here 24 hours, and I’m tired already,” Lanette said. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
30
After waking up in his new home and pulling on a newly donated bathrobe, Strider affixed a giant leaf to the end of a stick and played in the backyard. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
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