Ron King reflects on how Recycled Bikes for Kids and 100 Christmas gifts has transformed the lives of 15,000 Arkansans.
By Alexis Nalley | Photography by Rett Peek
For nearly a decade, Ron King has been making Christmas wishes come true. He established Recycle Bikes for Kids after noticing a news program in 2007. The Little Rock Fraternal Order of Police was distributing unclaimed bikes to a local ministry; Ron remembered his first bike and how important it was to him as a child.
“My first bike was a used road bike I received at Christmas,” Ron recalls. “There were four of us kids so I was glad to get any bike. I rode it to school every day and to the river, the store and the ball field every chance I had.” These memories inspired him to gather 100 bikes and distribute them to children on Christmas.
What began as a one-time Christmas present for 100 kids quickly became the better part of Ron’s work. Since 2008, Ron’s organization has distributed over 15,000 bikes to the community. Ron points out that a bike is oftentimes a child’s first gift that actually teaches important life lessons. “It’s a piece of equipment. A machine to be used for conveyance,” Ron notes. “It requires responsibility and offers freedom.”
This love and admiration Ron felt for his own bike translated into a business plan for Recycle Bikes for Kids. “We ask people for their old bikes, have volunteers come in to repair them and give them to kids. Everything we do is free,” Ron explains. “The support of the community has made this possible.”
Volunteers have shaped and inspired some of Ron’s ideas for the organization. It was because of the volunteers that Ron decided to provide bikes to adults working hard to get back on their feet. “Some of our early volunteers were from the homeless community and they asked how they could get a bike. We offer them an earn-a-bike program and also work with Our House for the working homeless,” Ron explains.
It’s a personal goal of Ron’s to be a good steward of the bikes given to him and to distribute them in a way that really creates substantial change. Despite the number of times Ron has delivered joy by providing someone with a bike they didn’t expect – he still relishes the emotion it brings him. “Almost every day I get to see a kid receive a bike they never thought they would have,” Ron notes. “The feeling never changes even after giving away over 15,000 bikes. It makes me happy.”