Even Redding residents who don’t think they know Daniel Smith, 35, of Redding; probably do.
Most of us recognize the man with the strawberry blond hair, a wide smile and bright blue eyes; neck stretched taut and face tilted skyward, a byproduct of his cerebral palsy. Smith’s disability rules out driving, and it’s only with the greatest of difficult that he can speak clearly, or walk steadily or even stand for any period of time.
You may also recall a few years back when Smith suffered an unprovoked attack by a man who tried to choke Smith during one of his bike rides; a story that caused an outcry of support for Smith.
And years before that, I wrote how Smith had saved enough money to make his dream come true: fly to Disneyland, a place he’d always wanted to go, with a little logistical assistance from some friends he’d made at a travel agency along his route.
But all good trikes must come to an end, as was the case with Smith’s bike, which was simply worn out. It had been repaired, and repaired again by Randy at the Bike Shop in Redding until it became apparent that what Smith needed most was a new trike. The Far Northern Regional Center provided Smith with an electric scooter as an interium transportation solution, but that meant that Smith was no longer pedelling and getting his sorely needed exercise.
People were even starting to joke and call him chubby, which Smith didn’t appreciate in the least.
Enter Toni Goddard, one of the scores of people who’ve befriended Smith. So when she learned of Smith’s bike plight, she organized a car wash Saturday to help raise money for Smith’s new tricyle, which will cost about $2,400.
The benefit, held at Kuebler’s Furniture on Churn Creek Road in Redding, featured a collection of people there to help, including women decked out in various versions of bathing suits and shorts, and even one French maid costume.
Then there was the crockpot full of spaghetti, made and donated by Julie Hanes of Jewels of the Party catering, for anyone who contributed $10 or more for a car wash. Goddard said the average donation was $20, but that a few people donated as much as $100 each. In fact, she said that within five hours the group had earned almost $1,200, nearly half of the cost of Smith’s new trike.
Finally, there was the backhoe – yes, backhoe – brought to the event by Ron Doelker of Little Doek’s Custom Backhoe in Palo Cedro. Doelker (btw, the 2011 winner of the Redding Backhoe Rodeo) let Smith ride in the cab and take a spin around a nearby empty parking lot.
“I thought he’d enjoy a ride in the backhoe,” *Doelker said. “We even got it up to third gear at Gottshalks.”
That made Smith chuckle, but then, he’d been smiling and laughing pretty much all day as he watched the activity from his chair in the shade where he ate snacks and chatted with people, though he did try his hand at washing a truck for a little while.
“It’s ….. amaz…ing,” Smith said slowly, when asked for his reaction to the crowd and support. “I wasn’t expecting this.”
If Smith was surprised, his mother Janet Smith, and sister, Dana Smith, were touched and moved.
“I’m holding back tears to even talk about it,” Dana Smith said. “There are people here today who I don’t even know, and they’re here because of Daniel.”
Goddard aggreed, and pronounced the event a huge success. She credited Alan Kuebler and Bil Woodford of the loan of the Kuebler’s Furniture parking lot for the Saturday event, as well as the volunteer vehicle-washers, including her husband, friends, co-workers and people she hadn’t met before, all of whom joined forces to help Daniel get a new trike.
“Everyone stepped up to help him,” Goddard said. “Daniel’s bike has been repaired so many times, and many people have actually stopped to help him when his bike chain broke. This community is so wonderful … but so is Daniel.” —–
Those who’d like to contribute to the “Daniel Smith Bike Fund” may do so at the Cornerstone Bank at Cypress and Hartnell avenues in Redding.
*Click here to see Ron Doelker, winner of the 2011 Redding Backhoe Rodeo.