This Cyclist Has Given More Than 450 Adaptive Bikes to Children in Need

The idea for the McLindon Family Foundation began with one thoughtful act of kindness.

McLindon and a lucky bike recipientCourtesy McLindon Family Foundation
Andrew McLindon and a lucky bike recipient.

About 15 years ago, Andrew McLindon, an entrepreneur and avid cyclist, was riding his bike in Austin, Texas, when he thought about a friend’s 12-year-old son. The boy had never known the joy of biking because he suffered from hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the brain that often causes balance disturbances.

When he got home, McLindon, now 60, went online and found a three-wheel recumbent bike with a seat belt, perfect for a child with balance issues. Soon the boy was pedaling around the street with his peers, having fun and getting exercise. But there was more, as McLindon gleaned from his friend’s reaction after performing this small act of kindness. “To see his son interacting with other kids,” McLindon says. “I’ll never forget the smile on his face.”

More Touching Stories About Kindness

  • The Net Changer: This man uses his own money to buy new basketball nets for playgrounds.
  • The Chip Bag Project: One enterprising student and environmentalist turns empty chip bags into sleeping bags for the homeless.
  • Chance Encounters: Readers share heartwarming stories about kind strangers who made a difference in their lives.

A man on a mission

That smile launched the McLindon Family Foundation. Funded by donations, the group works with pediatric rehab clinics to find children who can benefit from owning an adaptive bike—and to help craft each bike to the particular needs of the child. A bike may include a headrest, a shoulder harness, a seat belt, and a caregiver’s steering and braking mechanism in the back. The bikes are expensive—$3,000 to $4,000, and that’s with the foundation’s steep manufacturer’s discount. For kids lucky enough to get one, they’re a life changer.

young girl recieves her accessible bikeCourtesy Mclindon Family Foundation

“We worked with a 14-year-old who has spina bifida,” says McLindon. “She spent most days on the couch watching TV. Soon after she got her bike, she was training for special-needs triathlons. In a magazine interview, she said, ‘I always knew there was an athlete in me.’”

So far, the foundation has given away 450 bikes, and that’s just the start. “I do a lot of things. I run a lot of companies,” McLindon says. “But getting these kids their bikes is the most important thing that I do.”

Next, check out more kindness stories that will make you tear up.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Andy Simmons
Andy Simmons is a features editor at Reader's Digest.