Last week, my wife and I donated 50 bikes to local foster kids.
A local bike shop was our partner in the venture: they had high-quality bikes and the staff to tune them up. We supplied the money and the connection to the agency.
I was interviewed more than once, but the answer to the most important question--"Why bikes?"--didn't really make it to the media.
And so: why bikes?
My mission is to make 1,000,000 entrepreneurs wealthy. But wealth doesn't mean the Scrooge McDuck figure of hoarding; it's really the freedom to leverage your wealth to maximally help others. I call this the "Tinker Stage" of entrepreneurship, when you've reached the freedom of resources and time.
As a Tinker myself, I'm always trying to find ways to leverage money and time. So if I ask "what's the greatest benefit I can give a kid for $1 or $100 or even $10,000?" then that might not be a cash donation. It might be a bike. $100 will change a kid's afternoon; a bike might change their life.
Bikes give kids options: the freedom to show up, and the freedom to leave. They’re simple machines that carry a pride of ownership. Every good bike has a great story. So that’s what we want to give the kids.
I used to do PT with a client named Paul. He and his wife fostered dozens of kids. Most of the time, the kids were taken back to abusive homes or just bad environments after a week or two with Paul’s family. I said, “I don’t know how you do it man, I couldn’t stand to have my heart broken every 2 weeks.” He said, “You just have to hope that two weeks is enough to make a difference in their lives. You show them how good it could be, because they’re not going to get that vision anywhere else.”
That was a huge epiphany for me. So now we want to give kids something they can be proud to own; that creates a couple of choices in their life (even if slim) and something that gives them a positive story to tell.
My first bike was a jet fighter. Sometimes it was a motorcycle. Sometimes it was a horse. That old blue frame, bought at a yard sale for ten dollars, let me rewrite my story as often as I wanted to. Think back to your first bike: who were you when you rode it?
Maybe a bike isn't enough to make a difference. But it's more likely to make a difference than money will; and it only has to work with one kid to be worthwhile.
(You can read the local news story here, but you already know the important stuff.)