Mark Gordon’s grandfather and uncle were policemen and everyone else was in the military - a call to public service runs in their family veins. So, it was only natural as a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools graduate, Mark Gordon joined the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department in 2000. He wasn’t prepared to see the statistics LIVE. He knew them, but the amount of fatherless homes and the crime everywhere, no matter what part of Charlotte you lived in, was alarming.
Mark describes his childhood, living in the Derita community (now Mallard Creek) as, “a little town within the City of Charlotte, kinda like the movie Sandlot - we rode our bikes everywhere, especially to the pool.”
Mark gushed to me about his childhood BMX Huffies with kid-like chest puffing, and I got the sense he drifted back in time. His childhood coupled with his present day accolades - police training in the biking unit, 50-60 biking certifications and experience running the police training for the police bikers during the Democratic National Convention - all prepared Mark for his biker expert status.
The reality of how hard it was for dads to interact and have fun with their children was evident in Derita and was daily glaring him in the face as a police officer - arrest after arrest, domestic incident after domestic incident, the absence of the presence or fun with dads was palpable - thus, Bikin’ Dad’s Adventures was informally born in 2014.
Within the next month, he gathered dads and children to ride - they raced and hiked and eventually began their Rad Little Rodeo, where they bring their bike obstacle course to community events like National Night Out or Kids Fest at UNCC and help coach kids or dads or moms, for that matter, through it. This is the type of problem-solving partner Share Charlotte is privileged to help. Mark saw a need and is setting out to fill it.
With hosting between 30 and 40 events a year and Mark funding the first $10,000 out of his own pocket, Bikin Dad’s Adventures is at a crossroads and SHARE Charlotte wants to help by highlighting their need. Funding is key, but funding for what? Specifically, they need a transport van Mark told me. They currently use Mark’s personal truck, which has seen better days, per Mark’s comments, but the police donate bikes or request bikes from Bikin Dad’s Adventures all the time. Gaston County Sheriff’s Office has already booked Rad Little Rodeo for next year’s National Night Out and in order to bring kids and dads together through biking and outdoor adventures, they need funding to supply helmets and bikes for those who don’t have the equipment, and they need to be able to get their equipment to events for Loaves & Fishes, Sustain CLT, Safety Helmets for NC, and the other partnering organizations they help with throughout the year. They teach children how to safely wear helmets and work in tandem with the police to encourage children to ride their bikes, to give them a past time. “Days of the Sandlot-like life are distant memories, but involving our children and empowering them through biking and hiking is possible through our program and partnership with the police,” Mark told me.
SHARE Charlotte is proud to partner with Bikin' Dads Adventures to encourage exercise, community, empowerment, confidence and positivity all with a bike and volunteers to help grow children into the next generation of bike riders and good Dads. If you’d like to help support Bikin Dad’s Adventures, please connect with them here!