From Tandem Troubles to Two-Wheeled Triumphs: How Bikes and Blindness Inspire Change

A Message from Penny Forward Founder and CEO, Chris Peterson

Ah, springtime in Minnesota! As the snow melts away, it’s like the whole state breathes a collective sigh of relief. And what better way to embrace the thaw than with a family bike ride? Yesterday, that’s exactly what we did, cruising around on our trusty tandem bike, soaking up the sunshine and the fresh air.

Now, let me tell you a bit about our journey to bike bliss. It all started back when our oldest, Abby, was just a wee one. Kelly and I, eager to share our love for cycling with our growing family, embarked on a quest for the perfect bike setup. Our first attempt—a bargain tandem and a baby trailer—was a valiant effort, but it left us feeling a bit cramped and awkward. You see, tandems tend to cater to a specific height dynamic, and with me towering over Kelly, our rides felt more like a circus act than a leisurely pedal through the park.

Undeterred, we pressed on, trying out different styles until we stumbled upon the holy grail: a recumbent tandem. Ah, the comfort! The adjustability! It was like cycling on a cloud… until we realized it wasn’t quite compatible with our plans for expanding the family bike gang. Turns out, attaching a trailer or an extra kid seat was a no-go, and we couldn’t bear the thought of leaving Abby out of our adventures.

Enter Jim Black, a local bike guru and all-around good guy. With his expert guidance and a stroke of luck, we found ourselves face-to-face with the bike of our dreams—a side-by-side tandem from Blackbird Bikes, made right here in Burnsville, MN. Jim even hooked us up with a sweet deal on a nearly-new model, delivering it straight to our doorstep like some kind of two-wheeled Santa Claus.

Fast forward to yesterday, and there we were, gearing up for our inaugural springtime ride. Abby, now almost a teenager, and Elliott, our pint-sized adventurer, were bubbling with excitement as we set off for the park. And as their faces lit up with joy, I couldn’t help but feel grateful for the investment we’d made in our family’s happiness.

But not everyone has the same opportunities. As a blind person fortunate enough to have found meaningful work, I know firsthand the challenges that many in our community face. That’s why I founded Penny Forward—a mission to level the playing field and ensure that no one misses out on life’s adventures due to financial barriers.

It’s a lofty goal, to be sure, but every journey starts with a single step. So here are a few simple ways you can help pave the way for a brighter future:

First off, keep an eye on that credit score. Believe it or not, it can make a world of difference when it comes to landing a job. And speaking of jobs, start saving those pennies early on. You never know when an opportunity might come knocking and being financially prepared can make all the difference.

And hey, don’t be shy about putting yourself out there. Sure, the job market can be tough, but every application sends a message—that blind folks are ready, willing, and more than capable of contributing to the workforce.

Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of community. Whether it’s connecting with fellow blind people or tapping into your alma mater’s network, strength in numbers can open doors you never knew existed.

Together, we can build a future where everyone has the chance to pedal their way to happiness. So why not lend a hand? Donate to Penny Forward today and help us keep the wheels of progress turning.

After all, life’s too short to let financial barriers stand in the way of a good bike ride. Let’s roll forward, together.

Happy riding,

Chris Peterson, AFC®
Founder and CEO, Penny Forward

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