Wheels That Heal by Toni Youngblood
Something remarkable happened last Sunday in Deep Ellum… The cycling community in Dallas rallied around one of its own and raised over $3,300 to benefit Misty “Liberty Kat” Green, an Oak Cliff woman who was seriously injured on a special edition “Tits Tuesday” ride 12/31. Between internet efforts and one helluva party, the contributions totaled over $4,700!
“Wheels That Heal” had an ambiance of revelry from the get-go. Franconia Brewery was kind enough to provide libations for the 200 or so attendees, and fellow cyclist John Cowan used his charm and connections to score a smorgasbord of snacks from Whole Foods. Richardson Urban Bike Club’s Sheri Hall baked NINE DOZEN chocolate chip cookies for the crowd, and our gracious hosts Karen & Sean Fitzgerald dutifully sliced pound cake and cheeses from their own kitchen. The Fitgeralds are new friends to me–when I started organizing the event Karen very generously offered use of their AMAZING Deep Ellum loft space (over 3000sqft!). I couldn’t believe their trust and kindness. These philanthropic souls deserve more gratitude than I can express.
Our afternoon kicked off with a RUSH of raffle ticket sales–at times more than Susan Reeves and I could keep up with! World music was played live by the very zen Bhakti House Band setting
the tone for an atmosphere of love and healing. Guests donated $10 at the door and received wristbands for complimentary Franconia Wheat & Dunkel. Raffle prizes spilled over a long table and the glass jars quickly filled with torn tickets. We amassed a jaw-dropping array of donations from the community–everything from dinner at Nova to a $500 private hot air balloon ride. From acupuncture to custom leather. Bike gear, scuba diving, and original works of art. The generosity was SHOCKING.
When I began soliciting donations, I started with my friends. A few text messages and Facebook posts brought rapid-fire response. Dayla Cox, owner of Twisted Tiffany and a close friend of mine for 24 years, was among the first to help by contributing a $300 pinup photography package to the raffle. Another friend, Vivy, owns Chateau Nifty Pop and hand-crafted a leather fashion holster that had nearly every girl at the party buying EXTRA raffle tickets!
Local blogger and long-time friend, Justin Husman, contacted me with some highly coveted gear from Chrome he managed to negotiate. Even my old boss (who I walked out on in a hissy fit about a year ago) gave a $50 gift certificate without hesitation. The more people said yes, the more confident I became in our endeavor. I contacted business owners I knew, restaurants I frequent, friends of friends, fellow cyclists and so on. With every donation, I updated the Wheels That Heal event page. The growing list of loot got a lot of attention–and seemed to fuel the enthusiasm of even MORE donors. Richardson Bike Mart volunteered a $100 gift certificate. The Dallas Diamonds reached out to me through the Facebook event page and hand-delivered a four-pack of season passes and a giant bag of schwag. Before I knew it, there were donations coming in from every direction. As many of you know I’ve been strictly cycle for 2 solid years this month, so I was grateful to have the very dependable Jon Buchner, Susan Reeves, and Rich Franzen to assist with picking up prizes.
I continued working on the fundraiser every single day. Utilizing Facebook and other tools (and OF COURSE word of my big mouth) I spread the word and the community was happy to help. Liberty Kat, if you haven’t heard, had a chance crash on a short stretch of downhill the afternoon of 12/31. It was a gorgeous day, unseasonably warm and sunny. Our group (mostly members of the weekly Tits Tuesday ride) took full advantage of the day and logged miles through Plano and McKinney. At the onset of the trek home Misty fell and sustained major injuries to her head, neck, ribs, lungs and collar bone. It was a complete shock. An ambulance arrived almost instantly and she was later taken to the ICU via CareFlight. We were all wearing helmets. This SHOULDN’T have happened.
In the minutes and hours following the accident our group was in a frenzy to find her pertinent information and contact her loved ones. Most of us barely knew her so we were in the dark as to any medication she may have been on, any allergies she had, and whether or not she was insured. Unfortunately, she was not insured. When Tim “Frickin Brickin” detailed the extent of his medical bills from a recent crash I knew she would need our help. Tits Tuesday had a plan, and we began implementing immediately.
Dave Patterson rushed out the event flyer and it was then spread across the internet and pasted in windows all over town. That sweet red sign hung proudly on the door of the Fitzgeral Loft this weekend as throngs of cyclists, yogis, hipsters and friends danced to the rhythm of Ron Dyer and the Dallas Drum Djam (including a DIDGERIDOO!!). I’ve known Ron since my Austin days and when I told him about the benefit party he assembled a circle of drummers whose performance filled the room with life. A spontaneous limbo broke out as Natalie Stenger tipped her hips to a giant custom hula hoop she made and donated to the raffle. We had SO many prizes, we had to stop the music every few minutes to draw more winners! The crowd erupted when Can Turkymilaz’s $600 photo session was awarded. Tarot readings, movie passes, and a deluxe room at the Belmont Hotel were among the goodies. Waco & Eliot from CyclingSavvy DFW gave a brief speech about safety and the workshops they offer locally. More drawings, more prizes! Oddfellows, Eno’s, Libertine and Pizza Lounge. Haircuts from every single stylist at Sweet200. Massages, handyman services, and a night in VIP at Absinthe Lounge. The gifts just kept rolling in.
Our bike buddy Jeff Plunk finished the party spinning silly tunes for an
impromptu Soul Train style dance-off. Mark Kaplan of Naked Lens Photography snapped hilarious keepsake photos for friends and families. The community was tight, smiles were everywhere. Liberty Kat was quiet and seemed overwhelmed by the outpouring of support.
Dana C. Palmer, a lawyer friend of mine, came forward and offered to assist Misty in negotiating her medical bills pro bono. He was an old boss of mine at the Blue Collar Bar but now helps people with “Soft Divorce”…so if you know anyone I promised I’d pass his name along ;)
They say, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” I think
our attack on this cause reflects the way our cycling circle attacks hills, miles and heat on the rides. Something difficult was ahead, and we pulled together and tackled it! The cycling community is a close-knit one, and we are all lucky to be a part of it. It is rare to find a brotherhood of this sort in Dallas, I hope you all remember that. THIS is a “no drop ride”….we’ll always stop and help when one of our own falls.
edit: The full list of sponsors –
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Tags: belmont hotel, bhakti house band, Can Turkyilmaz, chateau nifty pop, chrome bags, cycle savvy dfw, Dana C. Palmer, franconia brewery, liberty kat, misty green, Naked Lens Photography, Richardson Bike Mart, the dallas diamonds, Toni Youngblood, twisted tiffany photography