From time to time we like to take a look at leaders within the cycling community, and today’s profile is of Kenneth Walker, an accomplished cyclist and bicycling advocate in Kansas City, Missouri:
Kenneth Walker is a 48-year old cyclist from Kansas City, Missouri who is working to promote cycling to youth in the urban core of our communities. As the founder of the Urban Kansas City Community of Cycling, Ken gives large amounts of his time, talent, and abilities to “bringing into the light” the advantages of cycling within the African-American and urban community.
Ken has spent most of his life in Kansas City busying himself with many different aspects of cycling. His first taste “in the saddle” was at the young age of 26 and he has yet to turn his back on it. Even after 30 years, and recovering from a ruptured right Achilles tendon in 2003, he’s still riding strong and is about to begin his second year of racing. . . always emphasizing the importance of staying fit and exercising and providing himself as an example for others to follow.
“Kansas City has one of the highest rates of obesity in the nation, and a huge proportion of that is represented in the African-American community … I saw first-hand how our youth were getting bigger and bigger at younger ages and began thinking about a way to give my community some options.”
Kenneth’s mission to spread the news about the benefits of cycling has reached the ears of hundreds of other cyclists, as well as those who support his attempts to enlighten the community. One such supporter of his agenda is the Kansas City Mayor’s Office, that has graciously extended to him an invitation to serve on the city’s first ever Bicycle/Ped Advisory Committee. He also has recently been selected to serve as the Mo. State Ambassador by the League of American Bicyclists.
“I really want our urban youth to have options besides the conventional sports that they are always offered. All they need is to have someone to educate and support them… I am going to do whatever I can do to get more of them and minorities on bikes!”
Kenneth, and his wife Alyce, has three boys and one girl. His 18-year-old son, Christian, the youngest, also races, and is proving to follow in the footsteps of his father. In 2008, he became the Jr. Missouri State Road Race Champion. His first win was the Tour of Kansas City bike race in August, 2005, where he made history as the first African-American in its 45-year history to win that race. Since then, he has become on of the top jr. racers in the Midwest area. It’s easy to see that the apples aren’t falling far from the tree. Even moreso, this is evidenced by Ken being awarded by Road Bike Action Magazine with a $10,000 racing sponsorship in 2008.
It is Kenneth’s hope that a love for cycling will take root in his community–as well as within the nation–because he knows the possibilities are endless if the urban and minority community were to come together and make their numbers known.
“I can’t recollect a time when I have ever seen a group of African-Americans riding a bicycle together in my city. But, when I have a group of kids with me and we ride 10 or 12 strong, it’s absolutely amazing! One day, we’ll number into the hundreds …”
Thanks for all you do, Kenneth! Your story is inspirational.