He may not look like Superman or dress like him either, but for thousands of children in the metro area, one man fills that role daily as he does good deeds for children he has never met.
Yukon resident John Ballard relies on the generosity of others to help him fulfill his calling in life. For the past 15 years he has been working on bikes and giving them away. Last December he gave away more than 450 bicycles to children who didn’t have one.
When he isn’t busy fixing up bicycles to give away or just fixing up bikes that are broken for the neighborhood children, he is fixing up old lawn mowers and grass trimmers to help subsidize buying parts for the bikes.
Making a difference, one bike at a time
Ballard has a new goal. He wants to make sure each child in the Moore area who lost their bicycle in the May 20 tornado or never had one and wants one will get a bike. He said nothing makes him happier than to give a bicycle to a child.
“When you see a kid’s face light up, that is what it is all about,” Ballard said.
At this time he has more than 230 bikes in his backyard in various stages of repair and recently received a load of bicycles from Deer Creek Prairie Vale Elementary students.
“Those students at Prairie Vale got in there and brought a bunch of bicycles,” Ballard said. “We loaded up 234 bikes to bring back and get ready for someone else.”
Ballard added he is all about getting children off their couches and up and outside playing, and he wants to see every child have a bicycle. Right now he said he is in need of smaller bicycles as well as tricycles in addition to the other sizes.
Growing up without a bicycle of his own, he and his brother shared one his grandfather had purchased for them, and they literally drove the tires off it, Ballard said.
“It wasn’t until I was older that I worked and bought a bicycle of my own,” Ballard said. “I had always wanted one and I worked all summer to pay for it. I took good care of that bike.”
He grew up tinkering with his bicycle and then he started repairing neighborhood kids’ bikes about 15 years ago. His hobby ballooned eight years ago when he had a stroke and had to quit his job in security.
Ballard hopes to give away more than last year’s almost 1,300 bicycles.
“Every bike I give to a child is a gift,” Ballard said. “The kids pay nothing for it. If a kid needs me, I am on my way.”
Ballard gets his bicycles from schools and organizations that have bike drives, individual donations and businesses that donate bicycles to his cause. He relies on the help of his family including his wife, Donna; son Denny Ballard and stepson Ben O’Dea in helping get the bikes ready to deliver as well as volunteers.
Ballard will be at Schlegel Bikes, 900 N. Broadway Ave., Oklahoma City on June 1, and on June 2 the Bubba Run, organized by motorcycle riders, will be raising money for parts.
Ballard said he is seeking donations to fund parts for the bikes he refurbishes. He also can use old lawn equipment that he can fix up and sell to fund more bike giveaways.
FOR MORE information on Bikes 4 Kids, call Ballard at 779-6574 or visit him at 615 Holly Ave. in Yukon. Bikes 4 Kids is on Facebook or email him at Bikes4kids50@yahoo.com.