Ron King is not the kind of guy you’d think needed a lesson in giving.
After all, here’s a guy who did what most of us never do — followed through on a simple, yet brilliant idea to make the world a better place.
Back around Christmas 2007, Ron was having a nostalgic moment, remembering how great it felt to ride his bike when he was a kid. He wanted to share that freedom and fun with kids who didn’t have access to bikes.
“I committed to myself that I was going to come up with a hundred bikes by next Christmas,” he told me.
Give away 100 bikes in 12 months. Something about 100 bikes had a nice ring to it. His friends thought he was nuts. “Let me know how that goes,” they told him. Truth be told, Ron didn’t do a thing about his dream for six months.
It was about this time of year that Ron got off the couch and went looking for that first bike. He found an ad in the newspaper. “I was so happy to be starting a little project, I took a picture of the bike, and I have it on my desk here with the date on it, a little Polaroid,” he told me.
That “little project” started taking off. Before he knew it, all sorts of people were sending him bikes. Avid cyclists and mechanics started stopping by to fix the bikes up. Recycle Bikes for Kids was born.
So much for the original dream of giving away 100 bikes by the end of the year. “That Christmas, with the help of some friends who pitched in, we were able to repair and give away a little over 300 bicycles,” Ron told me.
It’s pretty simple. A kid shows up at Ron’s warehouse and asks for a bike. They get one. Without Ron, most of these kids don’t have the hope of having a bike. Hard to say who gets the bigger kick out of this deal, Ron or the kids. “They are so polite. It’s always, 'Yes sir’ and 'Thank you’ and 'Can I try this one?’ 'Are you sure that they’re free?’”
Still, there has been a learning curve on how to give. For a time Ron felt he had to be judge and jury on who really deserved a bike. “How do you know does this guy need a bike or could this person afford to buy their kids a bike or whatever?” Ron shared. “What if we don’t have enough bikes? It drove me crazy.”
That’s where Ron says he really learned his lesson. Just give.
“I let go,” he remembered. “I realized they’re not my bikes anyway, that I’m just the middle man on this deal. I receive them, good people come in and repair them and we give them away.”
Yes, it’s simpler than ever at Recycle Bikes for Kids. Anyone who shows up and needs a bike gets one. Often that means homeless adults. No problem. Put in three hours of work — a bike is theirs.
Funny thing about having enough. Once Ron let go of that worry, the abundance started to flow.
They’ve given away about 3,500 bikes so far.
Daryn Kagan is the author of “What’s Possible! 50 True Stories of People Who Dared To Dream They Could Make a Difference.”