A Sharon Springs resident and his family recently launched a feel-good initiative aimed at giving back and providing a bit of joy for those in need during modern, trying times, acquiring, repairing and gifting bicycles to whoever may request one, from kids to adults.
Ken Kennedy was recently scrolling Facebook when he came across a cache of bikes in various conditions available via a Schenectady Police Department auction. Soon after talking to his wife, Nina, about the possibility of acquiring the bicycles and fixing them up for those in need, Ken was on his way to pick up the bikes with a truck and 14-foot dump trailer.
Upon their return home, the Kennedy family found themselves the new owners of about 70 bikes in varying conditions.
The goal in taking and fixing up these bikes, said Ken, was not only to provide a bit of joy, but to alleviate modern fears while providing a safe way to have fun while social distancing. Seeing the uncertainty in his own four kids during these difficult times filled Ken with a desire to “give kids something to look forward to,” he said, noting of himself and wife, Nina, “We just want to do something good for the community and make people happier during this time.”
As soon as word of the initiative began to spread, people started dropping off bikes and sending donations, which will be put toward parts for fixer-uppers.
The bikes that need some work are in his driveway, while the ones that are ready to go line his Sharon Springs lawn.
Currently, about 35 bikes are ready to go and six have already been claimed.
Every day, Ken and Nina set aside about three hours to repair the bikes, with this weekend being a heavy work one, as Ken has some landscaping duties to attend to in the near future on top of working toward the completion of this kind-hearted initiative.
Ken noted that he has about 25 bikes still to survey to determine if they need just a bit of work — air in the tires, for instance, or some simple handlebar straightening — or if they’d be better utilized for parts.
“A lot of them are in pretty decent shape,” he said.
Ken and Nina’s four children have been the bike’s test riders, with the couple then wiping the pieces down post-ride so they’re sanitized and ready for potential takers.
Currently, about 200 people have signed up to receive a bike — not only kids needing them, but adults as well — and the Kennedy family is happy to oblige.
The Kennedys are not limiting the initiative just to the local area, Ken explaining that people needing a bike can acquire one from “pretty much anywhere,” inviting people to private message him on Facebook, which contains a phone number that people can feel free to text or call.
If individuals asking for bikes are located in a relatively local area, the family will deliver, with Ken expressing, “I will take them as far as I can. I want to fulfill this list,” the initiative not stopping anytime soon, with the family’s goal being to honor each request “as long as it takes, basically,” Ken donating his time to make sure that everybody in need will be served.
Those picking up bikes — pickups scheduled in hour blocks in the interest of honoring social distancing guidelines — are able to choose whichever piece they’d like, taking it for a test drive, with Ken assuring people that he thoroughly sanitizes each bike post-use.
“It spread like wildfire” said Ken of this generous initiative, with many providing donations toward bike repair, Ken appreciatively commenting, “My goal is to take the donation money and buy bikes I see on Facebook sites,” or for sale in lots, the aim being to continue spreading good will.
The support, he said, “has been great!” adding of his family, “We’re very thankful.”
With bikes still rolling in to add to Ken’s approximately 70 (minus the six-or-so that have been claimed), he noted that the donation number may soon climb back up to 100. With the Kennedy’s perusing Facebook each night, Ken said a couple hundred could potentially line his lawn in the very near future.
This isn’t the first time the Kennedy family has given back, as each year, Ken’s business is involved in a charitable initiative, providing donations and holding a shirt drive to benefit cancer. But, he said of himself and his family, “this is probably the biggest scale thing we’ve done,” commenting that his Facebook page has already garnered 2,300 shares, even to individuals in Canada, many of which have been supportive not only with well-wishes.
“We just wanted to do something for people and when we saw these bikes,” it was a “BINGO,” Ken said, explaining that with the understanding that many individuals aren’t working right now and want to keep their minds occupied — potentially taking in nature on a nice, relaxing bike ride — he’ll be sure to continue work toward his current goal.
“This is just one way to give back,” he concluded. “A way to hopefully brighten people’s day or year.”
“You can see that people are trying to help and make this as big as possible,” said Ken of the well-received initiative, reiterating that the Kennedy family’s entire goal right now is “to spread a little light where it’s dark.”