Jack Carlson believes every child – regardless of physical challenges – should experience the thrill of riding a bike.
After decades working in bike shops, Jack Carlson has found a new passion
Jacob "Jack" Carlton would just tell you he makes bikes. But those who know him call him a real-life bike-MacGyver for children with special needs. With decades in the bike repair business, Jack custom builds tricycles that ensure anyone and everyone gets to experience the thrill of riding a bike. Many of the children Jack helps have never been able to walk or run on their own, let alone pedal a trike. The first time they sit on one of Jack’s custom-built designs, it’s a feeling of independence they’ve never known.
“There’s always a way,” says Jack. “There’s always a way.”
With callused hands and a face lit by grinding wheel sparks, Jack Carlson toils for hours in his garage in Lauderdale, Mineapolis. He is driven by a simple notion. Jack believes every child should ride a bike.
“If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a parent say, ‘I never thought they’d be able to do this,’ I’d definitely be a lot richer now,” he told Boyd Huppert, for KARE11.
Given that dollar, Jack would probably give it back. It’s not money that drives him, but putting children with physical challenges in the rider’s seat.
“There’s always a way,” he says. “There’s always a way.”
“It’s really the ability for her to be a kid, for her to have freedom and for her to go fast,”
Katie Welch sees a spark too, in her daughter, each time 7-year-old Layla hoists herself up on the seat of her Jack-built bike.
“It’s really the ability for her to be a kid, for her to have freedom and for her to go fast,” says Katie, who looked at hundreds of bikes for Layla that didn’t work, before she found Jack.
“They said it wasn’t possible and here he was picking up all these different parts and putting it together in this puzzle,” Layla’s mother says.
Jack would approve. The smoke from his welder wafts through the garage, the molten metal on the princess bike still glows red. “This is the best thing I do,” Jack says.
Watch Freedom Ride to see more of this heartwarming story.
Help Jack to help others and donate through GoFundMe
All donations to my GoFundMe campaign will be spent 100% on bridging the gap for families in need. Need based support will be determined by me through relationships with all parties involved, including therapists, case workers, etc. I promise to make every dollar go as far as possible to our goal of helping every child have the freedom to ride.