Soul cyclists

A group of Tulsans empower youth two wheels at a time.



Humble Sons founders Tommy Chavez and Jason Whorton with Whorton’s son, Austin.

For most generations, there are few childhood memories that conjure our collective nostalgia more vividly than that first exhilarating ride on a bicycle. In today’s technologically saturated lifestyle, are children missing out on this rite of passage?

Active Living Research, an organization dedicated to preventing childhood obesity, believes a number of social and environmental changes have limited children’s access to safe places they can walk, bike and play. Financial challenges also can prevent access to a bike. 

Fortunately, three Tulsa men are dedicated to changing that. Brothers-in-law Jason Whorton and Tommy Chavez, founders of Humble Sons Bike Co., and Mike Wozniak, a passionate advocate for the local biking community, have partnered to implement bike clubs in local schools and fulfill their belief that every child deserves a bicycle. 

In 2008, Whorton and Chavez decided to create a nonprofit that would provide bicycles and safety equipment to deserving children.

“The first year we only gave away 22 bikes; all were purchased with funds donated by Jason and me and our parents,” says Chavez, who adds that support is growing from corporate donors.

Today, they have exceeded their most audacious goals. The group’s donation at an Aug. 8 back-to-school event will benefit 20 local organizations, including area schools, a children’s home and several foster care programs. 

“Humble Sons will deliver their single largest donation — targeting a goal of 1,000 bicycles and helmets to Tulsa youth,” Whorton says.

With its growing success, Humble Sons Bike Co. decided to diversify its impact last year.

“We’re now branching out to Tulsa Public Schools and the bike community to get people that are knowledgeable about bike riding and have them head up the bike clubs,” Chavez says. “We’ll provide the bicycles, and the kids get to take them home when they graduate from the class.”

Humble Sons volunteer Mike Wozniak and guest rider Victoria Bartlett lead students at the last bike club of the 2014-15 academic year. Photo by Evan Taylor.

Leading the bike club charge was Wozniak, owner of Soundpony bar — a haven for cyclists and music lovers — who headed up the inaugural bike club at Emerson Elementary. 

“I chose Emerson because it’s my neighborhood school, and I could make a direct impact,” Wozniak says.

Gabrielle Platt, whose son Xavier participates in the bike club, says he accomplished that goal. 

“I’m in a wheelchair, so I do adaptive cycling,” Platt says. “My son introduced me to Mike, and through Mike I ended up getting sponsored and they helped me get my bike. Now Xavier and I can ride together, so it was a really good experience for both of us.”

Wozniak says bicycle-friendly cities and good public schools are two attractive attributes that promote growth in a community.

“Having a strong school system is really important, which is another reason I put my emphasis on Tulsa Public Schools: because I want people to say, ‘Oh, man, these guys are thinking about these kids’ futures.’”

Starting this month, Humble Sons plans to launch bike clubs in six more TPS elementary schools: Remington, Lee, Robertson, Jackson, Gilcrease and Cooper. The nonprofit also is working with local leaders and educators to implement a physical education class in which bikes are used. 

To donate or learn more, visit www.humblesons.org.

 

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