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Bike giveaways inspire Yukon resident

John Ballard, of Yukon, has been giving away bikes at Christmas for five years, but the project is more than just a once-a-year activity.
by Matt Patterson Modified: November 26, 2012 at 8:54 pm •  Published: November 27, 2012

“The kids and their parents are always happy to get the bikes,” Denny Ballard said. “The really neat thing is a lot of them will come back and visit. Some of them have even come back and helped out in the yard or whatever else they can do.”

O'Dea is also skilled at fixing just about anything. He spends most of his time working on lawn mowers and reselling them to help fund the bike purchases.

“I really love working with my hands and solving problems,” he said. “Some of these lawn mowers need a lot of work, and it's fun to see what the problem is, then fix it. Then that fixed lawn mower gets sold and it does some kids some good.”

Worth the effort

Things have been a little tougher than usual this year. John Ballard has had trouble with his hip, and the brutally hot summer took a chunk out of their lawn mower sales. Still, he doesn't plan on letting up.

“When you see those kids and their families, how excited they get, that's what it's all about,” he said. “They really appreciate these bikes, and it shows.”

Word-of-mouth brings people to his home. He doesn't advertise, though he has been interviewed on television about his program.

“Last Christmas Eve we had a woman come to the door in tears. She wanted a bike for he child. We got her one. It never really ends, but we're happy we can give these kids something to be happy about.”

How to help

John Ballard said he is seeking monetary donations to fund this year's Christmas bike drive and also old lawn equipment that he can fix up and sell to fund more bike giveaways. For more information on Bikes for Kids, call Ballard at 779-6574.

by Matt Patterson
Matt Patterson has been with The Oklahoman since 2006. Prior to joining the news staff in 2010, Patterson worked in The Oklahoman's sports department for five years. He previously worked at The Lawton Constitution and The Edmond Sun....
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