On the evening of August 19, 2014, the American Council of the Blind of Ohio, Greater Cincinnati Chapter (ACBOGCC) held its annual awards dinner at the St. Bernard community building at 120 Washington Avenue. A number of awards were again presented, one of which was the Ken Mars Award presented to the TUKANDU Cycling Club, Inc. ACBOGCC President Terry Olandese presented the award to the TUKANDU representative, Gregory P Wilmhoff, the TUKANDU treasurer.
NOTE: Greg Wilmhoff, himself, deserves an award from TUKANDU because he is in attendance at almost all of the TUKANDU cycling events, year after year, to help with transportation to and from events for several members. He is also a good captain and can be relied upon in that respect at each event.
The ACBOGCC statement of its specification for the Ken Mars Award appears below.
The Ken Marrs Award: presented to a group, company, or organization that has made outstanding progress in its programs and services; thus enhancing the quality and equality of life for individuals who are blind or visually impaired in the Greater Cincinnati area.
Below is the nominating letter submitted to the awards committee of the American Council of the Blind of Ohio, Greater Cincinnati Chapter (ACBOGCC) which lead to TUKANDU Cycling Club, Inc. receiving the Ken Mars Award for 2014.
Dear Awards Committee:
I come to you to recommend an organization to you for the 2014 Ken Marrs Award. As the award is defined, it is presented to a group, company, or organization that has made outstanding progress in its programs and services; thus enhancing the quality and equality of life for individuals who are blind or visually impaired in the Greater Cincinnati area. The organization I recommend is the TUKANDU Cycling Club Inc.
TUKANDU is an incorporated non-profit organization, with the mission to enable visually impaired people (dubbed as stokers) to enjoy the camaraderie and physical challenge of cycling while partnering with sighted people (dubbed as captains) on tandem bicycles. It is the only organization of its kind in the region surrounding Greater Cincinnati in which sighted and visually impaired ride together on tandems. Over the years during the cycling season on two-week intervals between April and October, TUKANDU has served many visually impaired members who cycle on the Little Miami Scenic Trail (AKA Loveland Bike Trail). Also, TUKANDU coordinates the necessary transportation for visually impaired members to and from events. Five to twelve teams of riders may ride from 10 to 50 miles, according to the comfort levels of a team, all on a Saturday morning. Several times during the season, the group gathers together afterwards for a picnic.
TUKANDU is unique in that the stokers are blind or visually impaired persons. If you were to ask them why would a blind person ever want to ride a bicycle, the answer is simple enough. Millions of people enjoy cycling. Blind and visually impaired people are no different from anyone else in that they are physically able and they can also enjoy the challenge of cycling. Therefore, the response would be, “Of course, why not?"
HISTORY: In 1999, three people, Terry Davis, Jim Cable, and Bruce Weil, came together and worked out a plan. Bruce Weil knew where he could get four Schwen tandem bicycles. Terry Davis wanted to organize a tandem ride with sighted people on the front seat partnering with visually impaired people on the back seat. Jim Cable, who was good at arranging things, Terry Davis, and Bruce Weil put together a tandem ride. That ride happened on June 5, 1999 at Miami Whitewater Park. It was a trial run. Everyone enjoyed it so much that all wanted to do it again, again, and again. So they did. They named their group TUKANDU because, in their club, two can do.
TUKANDU is now in its fifteenth year and much better than when it started. It started with 4 1980 vintage Schwen tandems and it might have to rent another tandem or 2 if more people might arrive. TUKANDU originally held its events on the Shaker Trace Trail, an eight mile loop where one could go around and around and around. It was a bit limited. Later, TUKANDU moved its events to the Loveland Bike Trail where members could ride to a number of interesting destinations and with no limit of distance. Often, several riders would ride up to 50 miles on a Saturday morning.TUKANDU’s membership of sighted and visually impaired people grew more numerous and more dedicated to riding. Through fundraisers and donations of tandems and funds, the old Schwens were replaced with 11 new and not quite so new tandems. What is best of all is the way TUKANDU has made it possible for many visually impaired people to get out every two weeks and enjoy cycling the same way so many sighted people do.
I believe TUKANDU Cycling Club is worthy of the Ken Marrs award. I hope you will agree with me.