Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

02 July 2015

Conkey Cruisers Determined To Keep Going In Ra-Cha-Cha

I haven't been to Rochester in a while.  Not so long ago, photography (specifically Kodak) was to New York State's third-largest city as the auto industry was to Detroit or bicycle business to Birmingham and St. Etienne.  At one time, banks in Rochester would grant mortgages and loans to people who simply presented a Kodak employee ID.

Kodak, which didn't keep up in the shift from film to digital photography, filed for bankruptcy three and a half years ago.  But the city's decline had begun before that, when other companies and whole industries left.  Now one out of every four residents of "Ra-Cha-Cha", and two out of every five of its young people, live in poverty as it's defined by the US Government.

In such a place, there are people who are desperate enough to steal anything that might be of any monetary value or use.  A bicycle has both. So, a would-be thief who broke into a storage facility where 150 are kept would probably think he'd hit paydirt.

Some of the Conkey Cruisers

That is what happened last week.  The bikes belonged to The Conkey Cruisers.  Theresa Bowick, a registered nurse, started the organization three years ago to help city residents of all ages stay fit.  (Like other cities in which much of the population is poor, obesity, diabetes and other health problems are rampant.)  But her focus became the children--who, she says, "are children I love."  

Theresa Bowick

 She is, therefore, determined to keep the program going.  The Rochester Police Department says it has recovered 25 to 30 of the bicycles, all in pieces.  To Bowick, though, all is not lost: "[O]ur safety coordinator and our program educator decided they are going to use those pieces to teach our participants to put bicycles together."

Donations have come in from the immediate area and beyond.  Still, Bowick says, her program can use donations of bikes, parts, money or moral support.

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