Last year, Riley Christiansen raised $12,000 to purchase specially-engineered bicycles for kids with disabilities through Project Mobility. This year she organized a bike ride to raise awareness, participation, and even more bike money.
That’s moxie in motion.
While shopping on the Bike Rack’s website for her dad’s birthday gift, Riley discovered a video about Project Mobility. The video reveals the joy that kids with disabilities experience when they ride a bike for the first time in their lives thanks to customized, specially-engineered bicycles. (www.thebikerack.com)
Riley was so moved by what she witnessed that she resolved to surprise a kid with one of these bikes for Christmas. When she learned that each bike costs about $3,500, she was not deterred. She just picked up a pencil.
Through an avid letter-writing campaign, Riley raised $12,000 – enough money to surprise 3 kids with adaptive bikes on Christmas Eve. That’s moxie!
Hal Honeyman, owner of The Bike Rack, started Project Mobility in 1997 because he saw the difference an adaptive bike made to his son who was born with cerebral palsy. Project Mobility, a non-profit organization, provides customized, specially-engineered bicycles for people with disabilities to feel the freedom, independence, and hope that comes with riding a bicycle. The people who benefit suffer from debilitating diseases such as cerebral palsy, spinal bifida, and muscular dystrophy.
Riley’s leader moxie
While Riley used her moxie last year to make a big difference, this year she used her moxie to enroll her community in making a bigger difference. To do so, she had to become a moxie leader.
Riley decided to organize a bike ride for the community. But she was cognizant that she needed more than a great letter and a few stamps to pull this off.
Riley partnered with her school’s Builders Club, the Bike Rack, Project Mobility, and her own friends and family. Together they organized “Bike for Bikes,” a 20-mile bike ride in St. Charles, Illinois.
While they will continue raising money throughout the holiday season, they are on track to gift 5 bikes on Christmas Eve!
Defining a moxie leader
Let’s look at the remarkable qualities and actions that catapulted this 11-year-old from someone who uses her moxie to accomplish a goal into a leader who sparks the moxie in others to accomplish something even bigger.
(1) Riley is not a one-hit wonder.
Make no mistake, one-hit wonders are better than no-hit duds. The world was better off because of Riley’s moxie last year. But for her to create more marvel this year requires even more moxie.
(2) Riley used her passion to create a battle cry.
Riley was inspired to help someone get an adaptive bike. Using that inspiration, she raised money last year. This year she had to create a battle cry in order to spark the inspiration in others and cause them to take action.
The battle cry: for the community to know the joy these kids experience on bikes and to surprise more special kids with special bikes this Christmas.
(3) Riley rallied people with the battle cry.
Riley used this battle cry to rally others to act. She shared it with the Builders Group, the Bike Rack, the families who received bikes last year, and her own friends and family. They all took action.
(4) Riley made it about everyone else.
Last year, it became as much about a young girl’s generosity as it was about the bikes. This year, Riley has intentionally involved so many other people that it is not about her at all. It is about the community coming together and gifting independence and joy with these special bikes.
Even Riley’s brother who had lived in the shadow of her fame last year had an opportunity to shine this year. At the bike ride, he created a raffle which raised $380 in just a few hours.
Another little boy, who was so appreciative of the adaptive bike his sister received last year, sold lollipops door to door in the weeks leading up to the ride to raise $1,200 for another kid’s bike.
(5) Riley was contagiously resilient.
It was a dreary, rainy, and chilly day for the bike ride. But that didn’t dampen Riley’s commitment for a successful event; which in turn strengthened our commitment. We got muddy and we were cold, but we rode on.
(6) Riley’s spirit and enthusiasm were infectious.
Riley never stopped smiling. Her laughter and excitement caused the rest of us to laugh at the mud and cheer each other on.
(7) Riley recognized and acknowledged everyone.
Riley’s appreciation was endless. She relentlessly gushed about everyone’s contributions. Whether it was a dollar, a volunteer job, or food for the riders, she recognized the human being behind the effort.
(8) Riley made waves, not just ripples.
Last year, Riley used her moxie to change the lives of 3 families on Christmas Eve. This year Riley used her moxie to change the community.
What do most people do when they feel moved?
When most people feel moved or inspired, they emote, they pause to reflect, they may even talk to about the issue or donate a few dollars. Very few people take action and even fewer people cause others to take action.
We’re busy. We’re caught up in our own drama and crises. Ultimately, we question whether we can really make a difference.
But we can.
We can be like Riley
It takes moxie for us to act like Riley and do something.
We must resolve that our action will not solve the world’s problems, but we must know that it will solve a few. We will be confronted with obstacles and setbacks, and our own lack of time, money, knowledge, and resources, but we must move forward anyway. We will risk failure, judgment, and ridicule, but we must persevere, more focused on our goals than we are on what others think of us. We will be inspired
and inspiring. We will act with passion and cage-rattling guts. We will be relentless.
We all want to be that passionate about something.
When someone like Riley inspires us with her passion and sparks our own passion and ability to make a difference, she becomes a moxie leader … even if she hasn’t hit high school yet.
One man emailed this message of of awe with his donation: “Pretty cool what today’s kids can do if they put their mind to it. When I see something like this I worry a little less about the future.”
What do you think?
Share your inspiration and spark our passion.