When a head on collision took the life of a Stony Brook man’s only child, he bravely said he wanted to make a positive out of a negative and with the help of the local community and others, he is doing just that.
Rick Bates’ only child, Ricky, was killed two years ago in a car accident in Arizona. Ricky was a professional BMX rider and at the time of the accident, was promoting his bike company.
Bates was devastated, but through the support of his wife, who he has called his rock, decided he wanted Ricky’s memory and his love of biking to help others. He started Ricky Bates BMX Banned Together, a bike safety program that raises funds for bike helmets and distributes them to school district’s in need.
“I go to schools and talk about bike safety and give out helmets,” said Bates. “I will Google the top poorest schools and reach out to them.”
If he can’t get to the school and speak he sends them the helmets. He has managed to raise enough funds in the past two years to keep the program up and running.
“I raised $10,000 in the first and second year,” said Bates.
Charity is not new to Bates who was at one time a wish granter for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He has also teamed up with the Bike Doctor in Port Jefferson Station, running a contest to give away bikes he has donated.
“I saw a lot of terminally ill kids but I never got it until it happened to me,” he said.
Bates also sends one child a year to BMX camp, usually through an essay contest he holds. It is one way he copes with the devastating loss.
“It’s helping me to heal, keeping my son’s memory alive,” he said.
Next month Bates will travel to the site of the accident where his son was killed and visit with members of the other families who suffered a loss in the accident as well.
“It’s full circle and I am living through it,” said Bates. “My wife is an angel, she is my rock and my support.”
To donate to Ricky Bates BMX Banned Together, visit their Go Fund Me site here.