By BRENNA GRITEMAN
A well-known Findlay bicyclist will be given a two-wheeled tribute ahead of his funeral visitation today via a memorial bike ride.
Kenneth C. Bender, 55, died Friday at St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo after being struck by a car while riding his bicycle a week prior, on Sept. 27. Kenny’s sister, Judy Hutton of Findlay, says Kenny was hospitalized in a nonresponsive state for seven days, showing just a glimmer of response one day.
Kenny was an avid cyclist, having used his multiple bikes as his primary mode of transportation — and freedom. Hutton says her brother was cognitively disabled and never had a driver’s license, but was regularly spotted riding around town. He always wore a helmet and a reflective vest, and his bikes were outfitted with reflectors and the American flag.
Kenny rode his bike to Wilson’s Sandwich Shop early most mornings to meet friends for coffee and doughnuts, then cruised around town to visit with various friends and business people, Hutton says.
While employed at Blanchard Valley Industries and Lowe’s, he rode his bike to and from each shift.
And once, Hutton says, the staff at Muddy River Bicycle Co. attached a speedometer to one of Kenny’s bikes and checked his mileage regularly. He put 24,000 miles on that single-speed bike in just one year.
“He rode everywhere,” Hutton says, adding that during Kenny’s hospital stay, the neurosurgeon couldn’t help but remark, “Man, his quads are amazing.”
In 2018, upon learning that Kenny’s bike had been stolen, Officer Cory Glick with the Findlay Police Department contacted the local Walmart. The retailer agreed to replace the bicycle, and threw in a bike lock, too.
Visitation is being held from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. today at Upper Room Church of God, 520 W. Bigelow Ave.
A memorial bike ride will depart at about 5:30 p.m. from 1 Amazing Place, 207 E. Foulke Ave., with a full police escort along Main Street and Bigelow Avenue, arriving at the church in time for the 6 p.m. visitation.
Hutton says she is “humbled” at the response from the local cycling community. The ride has been organized by Bridges for Freedom, a residential program for people with various disabilities, which will send a team of riders, with support from the police department.
Anyone interested in participating is welcome to attend, and a bus carrying those who can’t ride will follow the cyclists.
“I hope it’s huge,” Hutton says of the ride, adding that it’s an “awesome” tribute to her brother.
Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday at the church, with additional visitation for an hour prior.
Memorial contributions are suggested to Hancock Handlebars Bicycle Club, P.O. Box 232, Findlay, Ohio 45840. The contributions will support Findlay Police Department’s annual bicycle rodeo, which purchases helmets and other safety equipment for young riders.