On September 12th, we held a VIP open house for the new Nine13sports Depot. Below is a post that mirrors a chunk of my speech.
Our discovery of this building was not all that different than my initial start of Nine13sports. I had a vision, an idea, but it would take an immense amount of work, patience, and passion to take it from a concept on paper and turn it into something real. Something tangible. Something that would positively impact the community.
It has been a bit over 7 and a half years since our first day of programming launched in 2012. On that first day, and in the early years that followed, I never could have imagined standing here in front of all of you. In this facility. With the incredible team I have alongside of me.
This property is part of the story of Indianapolis. The original building housed Mohawk bicycles in the late 1800’s and transitioned into motorcycles and automobiles, companies in which Carl Fisher, James Allison, and Arthur Newby, and Robert Hassler all invested in. It has housed door varnishing companies and a cast iron manufacturer. It has housed laundromat services. This building has burned down…twice. The largest of which happened in December of 1958 and was considered the worst in the city since Tomlinson Hall burnt almost a year earlier.
And, the resiliency of this property is the same as what I strive for Nine13sports to embody. We have failed, we have learned, but we always find a way to turn those learning opportunities into future success.
None of this would be possible without each of you. You are here because you have supported my passion and helped us grow this organization. For some of you, it was taking a chance on my vision and making a key early investment, for others it was being willing to pitch our programs to your corporate marketing team and fight for us to get them to say yes. There are 10’s of thousands of students that have benefited from your willingness to support us.
There is not a day that goes by where on my 3 mile journey to work I reflect on how fortunate I am to get to come do what I truly love to do, and there isn’t a day where I spend my 3 mile journey home in awe of the support from the community that makes all of this possible. I have no doubt that this idea has succeeded BECAUSE of the visionaries of Central Indiana and the willingness to embrace big, bold, new, ideas and people.
And let’s face it, getting Kids Riding Bikes and Kids Building Bikes were certainly big and bold. Even for me, I never would have guessed that 10% of new students we work with have never ridden a bike before. Or that before we could teach a child how to adjust a brake or shifter, we would first need to teach them how to properly hold a screwdriver or wrench.
Or, that simply by getting a teenager out on a bicycle to explore our great city, they would see the canal and our many great monuments for the first time.
When I started Nine13sports, I did it with the belief that the bicycle is the ultimate equalizer. It does not care about your age or weight, the color of your skin, or your address. It is quite possibly the most inclusive simple machine that will ever be created.
And here we are, an idea that originated in my home office, to the early days at the Speak Easy, to an incredible three years at Shortridge High School, to this moment in time at our very own Depot. This city, much like the bicycle, thrives on the concept that we can all be the ultimate equalizer. We can pedal towards inclusive growth as a community. We can push one another up over the hard hills of life and celebrate getting to the top of the biggest mountains we encounter.
This has not been an easy journey. There have been more sleepless nights than I care to remember, many more no’s than yes’s from potential partners and funders. Days where I didn’t know what tomorrow would bring for our organization. Business quarters where I wasn’t sure if the passion my team and I shared to provide these programs would be enough to allow us to put fuel in a van and make the payment on it that was coming due.
And those most difficult moments, they have shaped me, they have shaped this organization, and you all have been those right alongside of us.
And we pedal forward, finding ways to make Central Indiana better.