Wednesday, May 5, 2010

4262 For Kids Starts it's Journey

Photo credit: John Garcia

A local jack-of-all-trades sets his sights on creating a non-profit and biking cross country with a purpose. Zack Hinkley, a VA beach resident turned Richmonder started his trip Saturday in eastern Virginia and hopes to make it to Oregon by summers end. The roughly 4262 mile trip is where his non-profit gets its name, 4262-for-kids. The organization plans to use Hinkley’s cross country trip to spread awareness and raise money for smaller bicycle-related organizations he meets along the way. Brad Kutner has the story.

Zack Hinkley sits tall in the studio chair across from me as he begins to explain his goal.

“The plan is you go from Yorktown, VA to Astoria, Oregon. It’s about 4200 miles if you take the most direct rout not involving interstates. I leave May 1st, and hopefully get there sometime mid august. Trying to do it as slow as I can so I can get as much accomplished as I can.”

It’s no easy feat to cross the country on a bicycle, but neither is starting a non-profit. Hinkley said he can handle the bike ride, but it’s the administrative end he has trouble with.

“That’s half the thing, the months of paper work and somebody’s doing it for yea and they know what they’re doing..”

Fund raising has been a challenge from the start. When I first sat down with Hinkley they had raised very little, but in the weeks since our initial meeting, he held some yard sales, took donations, and finally caught up with me at one last fund raising event the night before he left. The had raised close to 2000 dollars up to this point.

He plans to save extra money using social-websites to find places to stay and get clean.

“Couch surfing is awesome. I’m also on a thing called ‘warm showers’… which is exactly what it says it is: a place to take a warm shower. It’s like a couch surfing for bike touring.”

Hinkley had narrowed the focus of his donating and was excited to tell me about the specific causes this ride would benefit.

“Its is the website on that. There is 2 awesome Richmond non-profits U-locks of Love and Books on Wheels. Look em up. They are doing great things for kids in Richmond with bikes and getting them out riding them. All of this is going to them, I’m just trying to set something up for next year.”

Hinkley definitely couldn’t have done it alone, he had the help of friends and family to help pull things together. Mattie Hinkley, Zack’s sister, has helped 4262 from the beginning, making fliers and copies for her brother. She knew all the folks who donated their time and energy to a cause she cared about.

“There’s a girl who did all the web design and logo, which is so pretty. Chris Blaine and Megan, Zack’s neighbor, have been his personal assistants. I don’t even know if they’ve been working in the past 2 weeks because they’ve done so much work for 4262. I don’t no how they are handling the stress cause I get pissy when he asks me to do one thing a day and he asks 20 things a day from them.”

She said if anyone could pull off the ride, it was her brother, who drifts in life without a large goal to shoot for. She said 4262 has become the most important thing in Zack’s already well versed life.

“I think it’s amazing. Zack’s the kind of person who feels like he’s not accomplishing anything unless he’s currently doing something huge. He’s done the Europe tour, he picked apples in Vermont, he was a displayed artist in DC, he’s a little go-getter. So when he came up with this idea, he just lit up.”

The first leg of the trip started in Yorktown, about 80 miles east of Richmond. Hinkley spent Saturday making that first leg of the trip with a few friends. One of them was Ashley Sikes. By the time she made it to his going away party, Sikes was barely able to stand. When asked how she felt about the ride, she said:

“It kind of sucked a lot at the time. I wanted to give up once or twice, but I’m really glad I did it. I can’t imagine how he’s going to do it every day. – Could you imagine doing 4262 miles? – No. My butt hurts so bad just from today. I walked here because I can’t get back on my bike right now.”

Chris Blaine, a work friend of Hinkley’s, came into the project early as well. He remembers when Hinkley first started to talk about non-profits.

“Zack came to me with this idea and I just wanted to help make it up. I’ve just sort of been helping with logistics and putting people in touch with each there and letting the magic happened. And people have been fantastic so far.”

To him, 4262 and its future were based on how it would help the children of Richmond and help others who wanted to help.

“The long term goal is making it easier for anyone who is helping kids ride bikes, or making safe for kids to do so. We want 4262 to help get them off the ground and put them in contact with other people that could share ideas or resources. Right now, this year its about organizations that put u-locks in kids hands so they get to keep their bikes, and put free books and bicycle repair in situations where they really need it.”

Hinkley had to drop out early from the first leg of his ride, he made it about 65 of the 80 miles between Yorktown and RVA, but he saw it as once last chance to learn.

“I did 65 good miles today, that felt good. I also had 50 lbs of gear on my bike cause I thought I was a super hero this morning. That needs to be trimmed down. I need to get a good nights rest. I need to eat breakfast in the morning rather than being frazzled and try and get everybody organized and together. If its me by myself, I’ll do 65 and then be done and go to sleep."

That website again is 4262 –, you can donate and track Hinkley’s progress as he spans this great nation looking for folks to help. And he’ll be in touch with WRIR as he makes his trip, so stay tuned for updates.

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