There is something special about a bike. For some, they are simply recreation, but for others, typically those less fortunate, a bike means a whole lot more.
Ken Cardwell lives in Redmond, and he understands the importance of a bike to both children and adults alike.
Throughout his life, he has spent years as a bike mechanic, traveling behind professional road racers. Now in retirement, he is passing on his joy to those who go without.
For the past 10 years, Cardwell has repaired, rebuilt and donated bikes to the community.
“He’s an extremely dedicated guy. He’s retired, which means he should be resting, but he refuses to. He just has a spirit that keeps him involved,” said Don Senecal, who has worked with Cardwell at Jericho Road’s free meal program in Redmond for the homeless.
Senecal has known Cardwell for the past six years, and was the one who nominated him for the Pay it Forward award.
“He’s an extremely nice man. He’s extremely dedicated,” said Senecal. “I would just describe him as a nice guy.”
Last year, Cardwell put 195 bikes into the central Oregon community. And 150 of those found their way into the hands of kids, mostly through the Family Access Network in the Redmond School District which identifies the children in need.
“I keep a spreadsheet of what I figure to be the costs of the bikes,” said Cardwell. “I’ve given out about $10,000 worth of bikes.”
For this year, Cardwell met that number in early June.
“That’s really good news, he said, adding that he now should get "twice as many bikes out in the next year.”
Cardwell’s dedication and work is the reason he is a recipient of $500 from our Pay it Forward program, sponsored by CoEnergy Propane and Mid Oregon Credit Union.
Cardwell plans to use the money to continue his mission.
“Part of it will help me get a new tire for this bike I’m working on right now,” said Cardwell. “It’s really wobbly, and the bearings are bad in it as well.”
The intention is to get bikes into the hands of those who need it most, like the woman Cardwell gave a bike to last week who couldn’t drive because of a stroke, but can still ride a bike.
"The happiness in her face, and to just know she can get out, get somewhere and enjoy it, too," Cardwell said. “Makes me walk away and think, ‘Wow she is really excited, and I just did something good.’ It makes the work worth it.”
If you would like to nominate someone or a group for our Pay it Forward award, you can do so under the Contests tab at KTVZ.COM, or visit http://www.ktvz.com/payitforward.