Here’s how collaboration (and some luck) can work together

I’m a public school substitute teacher, and so know firsthand how important it is that our kids have opportunities to be active. And of course my favorite way to be active is bikes. All this came together this weekend.

A small group of youth from Riverside Academy came to the Edgemoor Park environment event last Saturday. One of the kids thought they’d get to ride bikes, he was so disappointed that we were just an info booth. He has a bike at home, but being in Wichita he didn’t get to ride it. That just struck me, every kid who wants a bike ought to have one. I’m sure he had some excess energy that could be drained in a healthy way, but schools haven’t been in that arena much.

I asked the counselor who accompanied the group if they could use some bikes. I’ve been hearing of a guy who collects bikes, picks them up at garage sales, sells them at swap meets and such, and donates lots to a local charity. The lady from Riverside seemed really pleased with the idea, so later that day I gave Jim the Bike Guy a call. Of course he had bikes, and would make a deal to get them into kid’s hands. I emailed the Director at Riverside, hoping to not hear back “nope, can’t use em”. Instead I got an email from Walt who is bicyclist himself and just started at Riverside a short time ago, beginning with “This is exciting.”

This evening I went to Jim’s place, got a tour of the various bike part storage areas, marveled at the history contained in those boxes (some derailleurs were from the 1970’s, I’m sure. Works of art!) We started looking at bikes, I was getting a bit nervous about how much this was going to cost. At $20 a bike or so, they were a bargain but he’s pulling out lots of bikes. I told him “I’ve got $42 with me. Fill up my Yukon with as much bike stuff as you can”. So with 3 BMX bikes, a pair of youth “bike-path” bikes and a really nice hybrid later, along with assorted other spare parts that I knew needed a home I was off to Riverside. Walt had a big smile when I asked him how his bike club and maintenance classes were going. He’d been looking for something productive for the kids to do, and this was right up their alley. Bike Walk Wichita supporters will be glad to help them, teaching fix a flat or whatever they need.

I like to think that some kids going to come through Wichita and Riverside Academy, all pissed and from an awkward situation (or worse) and will be able to pound some of that out through the pedals. Healthy in so many ways, our sport/passion!

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