A Local Hero

A Local Hero


<bt>I have recently interviewed John Brunow. You may not know who he is. Perhaps you know his bicycle store, bikes@vienna. I would like to tell you all about him and why he is a local hero.

Mr. Brunow was born and grew up in Centerville, Iowa. It is a small town, and kids could ride their bikes everywhere. He has always enjoyed bicycles. In his childhood he rode, and as he said, "Having a bike meant freedom."

He and his wife of 34 years, Ces, were married young at 21 and 20. They had time to become a couple, until their oldest daughter, Jessica — now 29, married, and a K-6 elementary-school art teacher near Seattle, Wash. — was born. Their only son, Jacob, is 27, and engaged be married. He is a sculptor and also is an associate manager at the Capitol Ale House in Richmond. Their youngest daughter, Sara, went to Madison High School and is now a senior at Shenandoah University studying musical theater.

The family moved to Vienna in 1991 and started bikes@vienna in 1998. The shop was started with an idea to change his life. He had worked at an insurance company for nearly 15 years. Ces gave John the motivation. She put her own job on hold to help open a bike store in an old garage.

The reason he is a hero in my mind is because he has made a major contribution toward a holiday project that helps needy families with food, furniture, money and bikes! Mr. Brunow works with the Committee for Helping Others, also known as CHO. CHO is a combination of 18 church groups in the greater Vienna area. Every holiday, needy kids get wonderful bicycles from Mr. Brunow. Bikes@vienna collects and stores the bikes before passing them out to CHO, which then distributes the bikes. Another thing he has done is participating in Pedals for Progress. This is a program he has done for five years to send bikes to Africa and Central America. The goal is to help boost local economies and open up the range of medical personnel. Adult bikes are donated for Pedals for Progress.

IN MY INTERVIEW via e-mail, I asked him who one of his heroes was. His definition of a hero is "someone who unselfishly gives of themselves to save another." I think this is right on. "Emergency personnel at the World Trade Center or the Pentagon after 9/11/01 would fit my definition," he typed. He also wrote about Jimmy Carter, "People can argue about his ability as president, but there is little to argue about the effort and dedication he has shown in working to improve the world since he left office. He is a hero using the criteria you’re using." My criteria for a hero are someone who contributes to their community and who has done something honorable. I think Mr. John Brunow is a perfect fit.

Bikes@vienna is located at 128-A Church St., N.W., Vienna. My family has been very happy with the three bikes we've bought from bikes@vienna. I hope you'll join me in supporting bikes@vienna and the good things it does for our town.