Meet the Pumpkin Pedaler
How One Kiva Business is Biking for Autism Awareness
by Sanjana Chidambaram
It is October of 2015 and dozens of riders are crowding around Franklinton at noon. Some are wearing costumes; most are mounted on bicycles. Despite the pleasant weather, Pumpkin Pedaler Foundation founder John Esterly is still nervous that he has forgotten something — something for the historic ride.
The riders are waiting to commence the first ever Pumpkin Pedaler Bicycle Tour, a nonprofit that was founded after John’s daughter was diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum. Fortunately, the ride goes smoothly — John hadn’t forgotten anything at all.
“The main goal is to raise awareness [about autism],” says John, the co-founder. The other goal is to raise money for autism research organizations such as Autism Speaks of Central Ohio and the Community Computer Alliance. The cost to ride is $30, with stops at local businesses. The Foundation also hosts art tables throughout Columbus.
Since 2015, 250 cyclists have helped raise over $7000 for autism programs in Central Ohio.
But business building needs funding, and that funding isn’t always easy to get. So, in early 2016, before their second ride, John and his wife took out a Kiva Columbus loan. This helped to consolidate the debt accrued in the founding of the nonprofit, as well as funding for the 2016 event (expenses included marketing, t-shirts, and prizes).
In addition to Kiva, John says that the business community in Columbus has been very receptive towards his foundation’s mission.
“I absolutely love it [in Columbus]. I don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon.”
He’s found that the State of Ohio is a good resource for business growth (both the online version and the Secretary of State office).
John also says that the amount of people who “come out of the woodwork” in Columbus for the cause has been outstanding, “Despite how bad it can get, there are still some people who care and want to help.”
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