Cumberland Times-News

August 25, 2013

Pedal taxi may deliver quality time for vets, kids

Greg Larry
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — A support group made up of military veterans has joined with a local bicycle shop to get a pedal taxi assembled and ready for use by those who served in the armed forces and the children in their lives.

Joe Daniels and his wife, Jessica, of the nonprofit group Veterans for Children, purchased the vehicle online and asked Cycles & Things for help in putting together the four-wheel, five-passenger mode of transportation.

“We want this to help parents spend time with kids. It’s also good to help people who have trouble walking to get around,” said Daniels.

The pedal taxi, manufactured by Surrey International, has seating for three behind the steering wheel, with two sets of pedals. In the front is a bench seat that can hold two children.

A Vietnam-era U.S. Army veteran, Daniels, 62, resides in Piedmont, W.Va.

“We help veterans. But we will help anyone, especially if there is kids involved,” said Daniels.

Mike Hutt, the owner of Cycles & Things, said he would assist in the effort and assemble the contrivance at no charge.

“I’m a veteran. My whole family served. It’s a way to give back,” said Hutt.

In addition to the pedal taxi, Daniels said that Veterans for Children has a variety of ways they assist vets and children.

They supply toys for needy kids, provide food baskets, help to establish housing, replace roofs, offer boating trips and assist vets who need repairs done to their vehicles.

Daniels becomes emotional when talks about the needs of children.

“I was homeless as a child,” said Daniels, who grew up in Baltimore.

Following a difficult home life, Daniels found himself on the streets at an early age.

“I was picked up at age 12. I had been living under a bridge,” said Daniels.

Daniels wound up in the Army and served in Vietnam from 1968 to 1971. When he returned home he began to student teach in 1972. He was touched by stories of children living in poverty with no means for even receiving a Christmas gift.

It was that year, 1972, when Daniels established Veterans for Children Inc. The group is a 501c3 tax-exempt nonprofit organization.

“No child will go hungry or want for a toy as long as I’m living,” said an emotional Daniels.

“I think it’s a worthwhile cause,” added Hutt.

Bill Harris, a Cycles & Things employee, also assisted in the assembly of the pedal taxi.

Daniels was asked what he enjoys most about helping children.

“I enjoy seeing the adults with the kids,” said Daniels.

For more information on Veterans for Children, utilizing the surrey, and how you can donate, visit VeteransForChildren.com.

Greg Larry can be contacted at glarry@times-news.com.