27 October 2017

At Age 8: Pedal Power!

What was I doing when I was 8 years old...?

Whatever it was, it certainly wasn't as interesting or important as what Nicole Basil did.

Now she's a senior at New Trier High School in the Chicago suburb of Winnetka.  Ten years ago, she asked her parents the sort of question that only a child can ask: one that is innocent but doesn't have a simple answer.  She wondered, aloud, why she could have a bike and other kids couldn't.

Nicole Basil, 18, founded Pedal Power when she was 8 years old.

Now Pedal Power collects and distributes about 300 bikes a year.  After the bikes are brought to distribution centers, mechanics decide which ones can be tuned up and used as motivational rewards for Chicago public elementary school kids.  Those that aren't deemed worthy of repair are sent to the bike repair program of Northside Learning Center, a Chicago high school for students with special needs.

Most of the bikes are donated on the main donation day, which will be on 11 November this year, although bikes can be donated any time at the Home Depot in nearby Evanston or at the George Garner Cyclery stores in Northbrook and Libertyville.  The man after whom the stores are named has been involved with the program since its second year.  "It's impressive that she and her family are so dedicated to this cause," he says.

Nicole was always the "point person" and public face of the program, but she is taking more of the organizational reins from her parents, Mike and Melissa Basil.  Now, she says, she is the "people person" who publicizes Pedal Power and talks to people about prospective new locations.  Meanwhile, her brother Bennett updates the website and handles other responsibilities.  A number of their friends, and other people in the community, are also involved in the project.

Nicole hasn't yet decided where she wants to go to college, but she says she likes "the problem solving aspects" of engineering.

If she could start Pedal Power when she was eight years old and keep it going for a decade, I don't know what problems she can't solve!

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