Good evening all,
So I was looking around town for place to pick up a used 1 1/8 quill stem for my bike and was pointed to a new bike shop in town here (Phoenix Az). It's called GMF (Gray Matter Foundation) Bikes. Yes, it is a wierd name for a bike shop but here's the story as posted in the Azcentral
In October 2010, doctors told 17-year-old Kyle Clafey he had a tumor in his brain.
His father, Mike, recalls Kyle asking almost right away, "OK, what do I need to do?"
As with everything Kyle did, he took on the challenge with the determination to overcome it, Mike said.
After surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and a year of "maintenance," as he called it, Kyle and his family thought he was cancer-free.
Kyle continued attending school and worked full time at Trailhead Cafe Bike Shop in Phoenix with his twin brother, David. There the two did repairs and maintenance, building upon their love for bicycles.
Then, in August 2012, the tumor returned. It was even more aggressive this time around.
After his second diagnosis, Kyle underwent surgery and went through more rounds of radiation and other treatments. Meticulously, he underwent infusions every other week and pill chemotherapy once a month to slowly decrease the tumor, which was the size of a golf ball.
"He had the most beautiful spirit during it all," said Troy Willson, a friend of Kyle and a staff nurse at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, where he received his treatment. "He had a focused, forward-moving approach, where he really believed he could beat his cancer."
Kyle joined an eight-man team dubbed Team Barrow, including Willson and Mike, to participate in the 3,000-mile Race Across America. The team started from Oceanside, Calif., and biked to Annapolis, Md., raising $110,000 for Barrow.
But Kyle had a bigger goal, his father explained. His passion to educate others about brain tumors brought him to create the Grey Matter Foundation and then the Grey Matter Foundation Bicycle Shop.
Kyle wanted to open a shop where he would fix used bikes to sell as well as provide full repair services, David said. A portion of all sales would be donated to Barrow, which had given him tremendous support.
In mid-December 2013, right before Christmas, a space for the shop became available at 5826 N. 16th St. and the family went to work. The space was donated and rent wouldn't have to be paid for the next three years.
Willson remembered how the site looked at first.
"It was more of a deconstruction zone," he said, laughing.
Slowly, the store's boarded-up front became big, welcoming windows. A fresh splash of blue was painted on the back wall.
And just as the space transformed, a transition occurred in Kyle as well, Willson said. Cycling as a sport was pushed off to the side as Kyle adopted a business mind-set.
For a while, all that was in the 1,700-square-foot space was Kyle's single folding table, where he would sit on the phone networking. He called around town for donations and for additions to the shop. Soon, Kyle said goodbye to his truck and purchased a van for donation pickups.
Kyle, supported by his family and friends, began the formation of his non-profit, all while continuing to fight his cancer.
This past April 18, at age 20, Kyle lost that fight.
Now, not long after his brother's death, David cranks at an old bike set in a stand. The frame and handles are intact but it's missing both tires. He will work his magic, give it a fresh coat of black paint, add tires and hopefully find it a new owner.
Mike works at the front of the shop, fixing up racks along the wall to hang bike accessories, such as helmets and lights. He has taken measurements for the materials he will have to get later to finish the project.
The space is unrecognizable. The floor has been recently sealed and a wall made of old tires is coming along nicely along the side.
Since Kyle's death, more than 50 bikes have been donated, along with various parts, David said. Work on the store has been put in full gear, and it should open soon.
"This is going to be big," Mike said with a smile. "People are already walking by the store and stopping by with curiosity of what we are doing here."
As he said this, a couple walked in and demanded to be sold the red and white cruiser at the store's front for their daughter as a graduation present. Unfortunately for them, a woman walking by the other day made David label the bike as "sold." She said she was willing to pay any price for it.
"It will be a fair price though," Mike said. "That's the point."
The bike shop is meant to be affordable for those who want to be or already are involved with cycling, Mike explained. It is also meant to be a place where customers can hang out.
Mike pointed out the space where they will put in couches in front of a TV near the bike display in the window. The counter in the back will be fashioned with the front half of bikes, he said. People will be able to actually sit on a bike seat.
"I love telling the story behind this store and why we putting in all this work," Mike said.
"But that doesn't mean it gets any easier telling the story," he said, tearing up.
"This was Kyle's dream and now it's his legacy" David said. "We are going to make it happen."
So if you are in Phoenix come and check it out if you need a used bike to ride or motorize. They are really nice.