Bikes for the World

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Featured Volunteer: John Abendroth

John Abendroth's inspirational story would be enough for us to recognize him as a featured volunteer. But what John did last month made it clear that we needed to honor his commitment to our program, to his church, and to the Boy Scouts of America.

In January 2014 John was well on his way to earning his Eagle rank with Troop 1212. This honor is a prestigious rank among scouts and one that is not easy to attain.  A Life Scout must earn at least 21 badges and show many leadership skills that often include outdoor activities in the wilderness.

Often times the final step before becoming an Eagle Scout is the Eagle Project. Many guys are rushing to complete this last goal before reaching their 18th birthday, the cut off to complete the project.

This physically intensive project involves planning, organizing, and implementing a group activity that benefits the community. Many scouts choose to build something, like a bench, or a nature trail. They will typically employ the help of their troop who they lead through the project.

In February of 2014, while John was out riding his bike with friends, he was hit by car. The accident left him with severe swelling of the brain and spinal damage. He had surgeries to reduce the swelling and remained in the hospital for many months. There were questions if John would walk or even talk again.

With the help of family, friends, and an incredible medical team John fought back. He graduated high school and turned his attention back to earning Eagle rank despite being confined to a wheelchair. His scoutmaster, Jim Boothby secured a rare extension from the Boy Scouts of America so that John could finish the Eagle requirements despite his physical challenges.

A friend suggested Bikes for the World and John instantly fell in love with the mission. Given the family's connection with bikes, this project was a perfect match. "I like the bike project because it's something that I'm passionate about," said John in an interview promoting the collection event held in August.

John set a goal of  collecting 100 bikes, something we often challenge our scouts to do. Really, for any collection we hope for 50 bikes, but scouts working on their Eagle Projects can often surpass that total. 100 bikes in the heat of summer during a peak vacation time, however, is a tall order. Not to mention finding volunteers willing to fight the DC humidity to help.

But John rose to the challenge. For a guy known for making people smile and encouraging action he had no trouble rallying a group of volunteers from his troop and his church. He reached out to bike shops and police departments to secure early donations and trailers full of bikes kept arriving the day of the collection.

Clearly John led a successful collection. His quest inspired our donors and supporters, many contacting us beforehand to find out how they could support John.

Did he meet his goal? Did he ever! Troop 1212 led by John Abendroth collected 181 bikes (and still counting) for Bikes for the World on that hot August day. We had to scramble by 10am to find a solution to transport them all, including two adult trikes. We ended up making two trips to the warehouse. The bikes John collected will be included in our next shipment next week heading to CESTA El Salvador.

A John Abendroth fan and friend said it best, "You're JOHN ABENDROTH. You can do anything."

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing the whole story, BfW. Great job John, I have a lot of respect for you!

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