ROCKGLEN - His name is Kye Chase. He’s 11 years old. He lives in Rockglen, and he goes to Rockglen school. He’s the oldest of three boys born to Chris and Samantha Chase.
This is Kye’s story. In 25 words or less, it’s the story of an old discarded bike and a young lad finding his passion.
In many ways, Kye Chase is a typical 11-year-old boy. He loves hanging out with his friends. Riding his bike and playing video games. He especially loves those. Don’t tell anybody, but - he has recently started to notice girls. Pretty typical 11-year-old guy-stuff, right? And ... like most 11-year-old boys, Kye gets bored easily. Video games help to quell the boredom. They’re definitely Kye’s first love. Until recently, that is.
Another of Kye’s passions? Visiting the local landfill with his dad. It was on one of those trips that he started thinking it might just be time to get a new bike. New to him, at least. Everyone knows a fella needs decent wheels, right? How’s a guy supposed to pick up chicks with a beat up old bike, anyway? His old ride was pretty much toast, so ... it was time. Time to retire that sorry old heap!
School was finally out, and the prospects of a long, hot, boring summer were just around the corner. Then one day - while on a quick trip to the dump - it happened. Kye spotted a pretty cool discarded bike frame, and the light bulb went on in his head. He asked Mr. Justus, who manages the landfill, if he could have the old bike. Mr. Justus said, “Sure. Take it away. It’s yours!”, and the rest they say, is history. In a few short weeks, Kye had ‘scrounged’ enough parts - ALSO from the dump - to completely rebuild himself a new bike.
Overnight, a young lad who hated getting dirty, introduced himself to a whole new world of grit, grime, grease, and bicycle mechanics.
Fast forward a couple of months. This reporter is working away in his back yard. He hears a quiet voice behind him. Turning around, he sees young Kye Chase standing nervously there in front of him. “Mr. Bloom,” asked Kye, “I was wondering if you had any plans for those two bikes you have behind your shed out back?” “As a matter of fact, I do,” I replied. “Why do you ask?”
Kye carefully explained that he was looking for old bikes to fix up and recycle. He thought he could perhaps sell a few of them and make some pocket change in the process.
“Wow,” I said. “That’s pretty ambitious, but very, very cool. Good for you. What was your name again?” We stood there yakking for a few minutes in the back yard. “Come with me,” I said. “I have something cool to show you.”
I disappeared behind another shed for a moment, and emerged with an old bike I had recently rescued from the dump. I had plans to fix it up for my granddaughter to ride when she came down from Saskatoon to visit. Kye’s eyes got as big as saucers when he saw that old beauty in front of him.
“WHOA! That is sooooo COOL,” he blurted out! “Are those white-wall tires?”, he asked. “They are indeed,” I replied. “And looky here - a shock absorber on the back wheel and seat. How cool is that?” Kye got the biggest, brightest smile on his face. I could plainly see he loved that old girl as much as I did, and knew right then and there that he should have it.
“Tell you what,” I said. “You take it. It’s yours. This old girl needs a lot of work. Chain is totally seized up, and she needs new pedal bearings. They’re shot! You might not even be able to find a new set to fit. I looked on line briefly, but didn’t have any luck. You can have this sweet old ride on one condition: that you fix her up the way I’d fix ‘er up! She needs to be restored and given a whole new life. She needs to be treated the way you’d treat a proper lady - with tender loving care. She deserves that much, don’t ya think?” With a big silly grin on his face, Kye nodded his head in agreement. “Alrighty then. Do we have a deal?” I asked. “We do,” said Kye as we shook hands to seal the deal.
Kye turned quickly to head for home with his new-found treasure. I slipped a $20 bill into his hand. “To help with the restoration.” I explained. As I watched him walk away, I shouted after him. “One more thing, young fella! Promise me you’ll come back to show me when you’re finished fixing the old girl up!”! Kye smiled and nodded his head in agreement.
Seven or eight weeks passed. I began to wonder if I’d ever see Kye Chase again. Then last Sunday, one week before Thanksgiving, there was a knock on my back door. Kye had returned - just like he had promised - to show me what I longed to see.
He led me quickly out to the boulevard where the old bike was standing upright on its stand. His daddy, Chris, was standing off to the side beaming with pride. For a moment we all just stood there in silence admiring Kye’s handiwork. Finally, I walked over to inspect his work.
“Those pedal bearings and chain were totally seized,” I reminded him. He had done the work. He needed no reminding. He just stood there proudly by his bike.
“I’m proud of you Kye! You kept your word. That’s a pretty rare thing in this day and age. You did a great job on this ole girl. Finding new pedal bearings to fit her, would not have been an easy task ... I’m very, very proud of you, son!”
As the three of us stood there in silence, basking in the glow of Kye’s accomplishment, I thought how grateful I was to have met this young man and his daddy. I thought how awesome it was that keeping one’s word was still important to some people, that a handshake was still enough to ‘seal a deal’!
I thought how wonderful it was to be able to give Earth Mother a helping hand - to restore, recycle, and reuse things that others throw away. Then I wondered if the person who had tossed this old beauty so quickly away was ever sorry they had done so. We were not sorry. But were they? It was in that moment, as we stood there, that I understood, in a very small way, the import of the old saying: “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” and I was ever so grateful! I was grateful also to have two special new friends!