• Fri March 30 2007
  • Posted Mar 29, 2007
By Barb Ickes | Thursday, March 29, 2007 The world keeps getting smaller. For about an hour and a half this week, a woman from Cedar Falls, Iowa, bumped into a man from Bettendorf who got the attention of strangers in Des Moines and Iowa City. When the hour and a half was over, a 21-year-old man with a brain tumor had an expensive new bike. Bruce Grell, the owner of Healthy Habits Bike Shop in Bettendorf and the president of DICE (Double I Cycling Experience), saw a note on an Internet site for Iowa bike lovers. It's one of those special interest chat groups, and a woman from Cedar Falls had picked the site to ask for some help. "I have a 21-year-old nephew who has a brain tumor on top of a loss of oxygen during a surgery that left him with brain damage and physical limitations," the note began. "My brother would like to find him a trike or recumbent trike to ride for exercise. "The new ones he's looked at are WAY over what he can afford, so I thought I'd send out a message to this group to see if anyone knew of one for sale or would be willing to keep an ear and/or eye out for a used one. Marshall has come a long way and he used to ride quite a bit before all this happened. Thanks a bunch! Kathy" And that's all it took. Grell immediately posted another message, saying he had a recumbent trike (a three-wheeled bike that rides low, rather than up high like a regular bike) for sale at his Bettendorf bike shop. He explained that he was selling it on consignment for a Quad-City family and would forgo any profit if folks wanted to contribute. The bike's previous owner suffered from Alzheimer's disease, he said, and never got to ride it. When sold brand new, the bike would fetch about $800. The donations started pouring in: "I'd be willing to throw in $20 or so to help out a fellow cyclist," the responses began. Within an hour and a half, 12 people had pledged donations, and Grell sent another e-mail, explaining that he now had enough money to give the bike to the Cedar Falls man. "The speed at which it happened was a little surprising," Grell said Wednesday. "The fact it happened doesn't surprise me. The biking community steps up and takes care of things." Grell wrote a good-news note to "Kathy," who had posted the original request for help. She then forwarded a phone number to reach her brother. "He was just overwhelmingly gracious," Grell said of the man's response. "We had someone who volunteered to deliver it, but they wanted to pick it up themselves. "This way I get to meet them." So, the family will make the 150-mile drive from Cedar Falls on Sunday to pick up the trike. It will take them longer to get here than it took 12 strangers to give them a reason for coming. Barb Ickes can be contacted at (563) 383-2316 or

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