Bicycles are David Poppei’s life!
“Ive always had a love for bicycles,” he said. “I love that you’re exercising, burning calories.”
That love for cycles brought him to Green Line Bikes in Oak Park three years ago as general manager.
“I love tinkering with the bikes. It’s calming to me. Where others may see it as very stressful, I don’t,” he said.
Poppei’s obsession with bicycles and love for exercise was no accident. It was the plan for his survival at a very young age.
“I was actually born with no muscle tone,” he explained. “Doctors actually told my parents that I would never be able to walk.”
His supportive and loving family proved the doctors wrong. A swing installed by his dad in their home in Hyde Park, was the beginning of him getting strong and building muscle.
“My mother enjoyed myself gaining muscle from swinging and everything, but she did not enjoy cleaning the foot prints off the ceilings,” he said.
This early experience taught Poppei that anything was possible. And he believes, regardless of a person’s abilities, anyone can ride a bike.ck
Through a partnership with Freedom Concepts, a national company that designs mobility cycles, Poppei got a hold of a bicycle built for two, which he fondly calls The Purple Beast.
“It’s large and it’s purple, and some people call it ‘the special needs bike,’ but I honestly don’t like that name,” he said.
And he rents it out free of charge to anyone in need. Like Johanna, and her mom Trina Bauling. The 8-year-old, nicknamed, Lala, is autistic.
“Having David and his coworkers help us with this, they’ve just been wonderful,” Bauling said.
“Basically there, there’s a seat in the front. And the child or adult that is in front, they cannot steer, but if they have user legs, they can absolutely pedal,” Poppei said.
When Lala and her family go out on the Beast, it’s like nothing else matters.
“When she’s on it, it’s clear that she’s 100 percent happy. And that’s a hard thing for us to find with her,” Bauling said.
David Poppei: He’s one of Chicago’s Very Own.