There’s a moment in every child’s life where an awareness of economic status sparks and they discover where they stand among the “haves” and “have nots.” A memory many people carry into adulthood, those moments of discovery can be substantial. It may begin with a feeling of awe at the first glance of a friend’s larger house or noticing a curious disparity in what Santa brought to this house compared to that one. For others, the memory is more subtle. It may be a memory of a classmate always having the whitest shirts or the lemon scent of a professionally cleaned home that, even when whiffed as an adult, can take a person back to that moment of insecure enlightenment.
For Ryan Gable, CEO of Starting Point Realty and co-founder of Bikes & Music, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, those early memories began on the playing field. “I remember some other kids always having the newest bat every year, or new mitts, not the hand-me-downs I used,” Ryan recalls, standing in the hot sun on a Saturday morning in Rolling Meadows in sunglasses and what his brother Seth lovingly referred to as his “silly hat.” From the playing fields to the trails, Ryan developed a love for cycling as an adult.
Carrie Gable, CEO of RealSupport, Inc, and co-founder of Bikes & Music has similar memories from her childhood, watching her single mother work 2-3 jobs so Carrie could participate in school band and have a clarinet. Carrie now looks to ease the burdens of other hardworking families, and with Ryan created Bikes & Music, a way to share their passions and spread the happiness to others.
Bikes & Music kicked off in a hot way on Saturday, May 22 at the Rolling Meadows Community Center with their inaugural event – a bike swap to benefit economically challenged families in the Chicago area. Families began arriving sharply at the advertised 10am start time to browse the selection of 63 bikes for sale, some donated, some being sold by private sellers who contributed a donation fee, with all proceeds benefitting Bikes & Music. Parents and children walked through the selection as people of all ages rode the perimeter, taking their potential new bike on a “test drive.”
Families like the Washington’s came from neighboring suburbs. They saw the event shared on Facebook and seized the opportunity to outfit their children with new bicycles. By 10:45 Justice Washington had picked her new ride and was cooling off in the shade under the Crank Revolution tent where Jeremy Lamb, co-owner of the popular Hoffman Estates bike shop, got her new bike all tuned up.
Stories like the Washington’s unfolded in rapid fashion. Of the 63 bikes available for sale when the event began, half were sold by 10:45.
Ryan and Carrie are looking to launch more swap events in other suburbs soon, while continuing to provide donated bikes and musical instruments to youth in the area. Another initiative for the philanthropic couple is to provide an avenue not just to new bikes and instruments, but to experiences as well. They are looking at ways to bring music lessons, youth concerts, and bicycle field trips to Chicago area kids.
Ryan draws inspiration from a Minnesota based group, The Loppet Foundation. Loppet provides a way for underserved youth and families in the Minnesota area to experience a myriad of outdoor activities, including mountain biking, running, and skiing. Like The Loppet Foundation, one of Ryan’s visions is for Bikes & Music to bring youth from Chicago out to the suburbs to learn and experience mountain biking on some of the best trails the area has to offer.
With the inaugural event in the books, and more planning underway, Bikes & Music is set to continue their foundational mission – to give all children the opportunity to enjoy bicycling and music to serve the development of body and mind for happiness and well-being.