Local couple buys, restores dozens of bikes for kids

Sarah Eames | The Daily StarNina and Ken Kennedy survey their collection of more than 50 bicycles in the front yard of their Sharon Springs home Friday.

SHARON SPRINGS — Dozens of bikes lined in neat rows and sorted by size blanket the driveway and front yard of village residents Ken and Nina Kennedy, ready to be picked out and ridden by new owners.

“We figured that with all the stuff going on, it would be nice to put a smile on the kids’ faces,” Ken said.

The Kennedys said they purchased more than 70 bikes at an auction held earlier this month by the Schenectady Police Department, paying about $900 for the lot.

Ken, who was at the auction in search of landscaping equipment for his business, said he made the purchase on a whim and didn’t tell his wife until it was time to pick them up.

The couple said they spent about two weeks cleaning and fixing the bicycles, mostly inflating or replacing tires or tightening brakes. The bicycles beyond repair were used for parts or for scrap, Nina said. 

Many of the bikes had been abandoned or stolen, recovered and never claimed, she said, “so a lot of them didn’t really need much work.”

Other than fixing their own kids’ bikes, Ken and Nina said they had no prior bicycle repair experience. Nine-year-old K.J. and 11-year-old Kristina, the youngest of the four Kennedy children, have assisted their parents in test-riding the newly repaired bicycles.

Within a matter of weeks, more than 200 joined the waiting list, from as far away as Schenectady and Albany. One young boy traded in his bike — a girl’s bicycle donated by a church group — for another one more his size, Ken said.

“We’ve had kids who’ve never had a bike; some of them are just learning to ride, some have disabilities — just to see the smiles on their faces is incredible,” Nina said.

“That’s our vow — we plan on getting everybody a bike that’s asked,” Ken said.

To maintain proper social distancing, prospective bike owners are invited over one at a time in one-hour time slots. Face masks are required, and any bikes that were test-ridden are disinfected in between each visit.

The couple has since collected more bikes from friends and neighbors looking to get rid of their unused ones. Others have come to the Kennedys in search of bike repair services, for which Ken directs them down the road to Steven Hickey, owner of S&H Bicycle Store in Sloansville, who has also donated spare parts to the effort.

“We’ve had people reaching out and asking us if this is going to be a yearly thing,” Nina said. “People are willing to donate — it might lead to something like that.”

Ken said they received an offer to partner with the Sharon Springs Rotary Club to continue the bicycle giveaway.

“It’s charity,” he said. “We’re not in it to make money. It’s just to brighten a kid’s day, or even some adults who don’t have bikes and want to ride with their kids.”

For more information or to pick up a bike, call Ken Kennedy at 518-729-7410. 

Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at seames@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.

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