RENO, NV - Jim Jones was 85, fighting cancer and being told to give up riding bikes. Thanks to a local Home Depot and one of its employees he won't have to.
In the course of a long active life, Jones had spent a good deal of time riding a bike.
Like just about everyone else he rode one growing up in Wyoming. Then returning from World War II, he rode his old bike again, until picking up a multi-speed cycle in college.
"It's a hell of a lot better than a car," says Jones. "You can park it anywhere."
And as the years went on Jones always had a bike, riding regularly even into his senior years.
But Jim has been battling lung cancer. Chemo and radiation left his sense of balance shaky. Worried about falls, his doctor advised him to give it up.
Looking for an alternative, he happened upon do-it-yourself plans for a 4 wheeled pedal car and decided to build one.
Then the cancer returned. His daughters moved him from Kansas City to Reno. He arrived two weeks ago and is now in hospice care, but still determined to start pedaling again. Getting started was a priority.
His daughter Traci imagined attempting the build in her garage and it seemed a daunting task. They went to this Home Depot looking for a little help.
"We thought we could ask them if they could cut the PVC pipe (for the frame) to the specifications on the directions," she says.
Home Depot employee Pete Metcalf offered more.
"He said this is the coolest thing I've ever seen," says Traci Hotchkin. "' I'm going to talk with my manager, but I think we're going to build this thing.'"
With his boss' OK, Pete went to work. Today it's just about finished. PVC frame, bicycle wheels, multi-gear sprockets, oh and a chair in the break room is missing its seat.
"All they've got to do is put some brakes on it and I can do that with a stick if I have to."
But otherwise it's just about ready for delivery. Along the way Pete has engineered a few improvements and touches of his own.
It's taken about 20 man hours to get to this point. Metcalf did the work, but had the backing of Home Depot's management..
"When it comes to this kind of stuff it's all on us,"says District Manager Clint Echevarria. "Hours and whatever he needed to make it happen, you know, he had an open checkbook because this was so incredible."
And so, thanks to a helpful store employee who went above and beyond, an 85 year old cancer patient pedals on.
"It's an amazing gift," says Traci, tearing up as she watches her father grinning as he takes his vehicle for a quick lap around the store. "He likes life and he's going to be enjoying this.That's the greatest gift anyone could give him. I'm really happy."