Dr. Daniel Kraft knows kids. After all, he’s a retired pediatrician. So when Dr. Kraft found out that the boy he mentors through Alpert JFS didn’t have a bicycle, he hatched a plan. “Every kid in the world should know how to ride a bike,” Dr. Kraft says. And the good doctor knew just where to turn.
Since 1999, Jack Hairston – well known around town as Jack The Bike Man – has been collecting bicycles, fixing them up – if they need it – and giving them to children with low economic means. Hairston started the non-profit on his porch, and it grew. And it grew. Now he works out of a large warehouse on Florida Avenue in West Palm Beach.
Hairston’s headquarters is no small operation. Indeed, his inventory blows Toys R Us out of the water.
And that’s where 8-year-old Kevin and his family showed up, per doctor’s orders, on a recent July morning.
Unbeknownst to them, it was Bike Day, and everyone in the family – Kevin, his younger brother, his little niece and his 14-year-old aunt – rode out of there with bikes and helmets. And smiles. Smiles are really what Hairston has been giving away all these years. You can also buy a bike at Hairston’s operation at 2406 Florida Ave. in West Palm Beach. But it’s the giveaway work that has put Hairston on the map. Over the holidays, he gives away hundreds – each of them tuned up by his small cadre of self-taught mechanics.
Dr. Kraft, who no longer keeps office hours, recently joined Alpert JFS’ Judith and Jack Rosenberg Mentoring 4 Kids Program and has been paired with Kevin since mid-June. He said mentoring goes beyond meeting to go over school work. “It’s a commitment, for sure, because you don’t want to start something you can’t finish,” he said. (Like a bike ride.)
For more information on the Mentoring 4 Kids program, please call Program Director, Jennifer DiSilvestro at 561-238-0285.