Wagy family makes one final donation before saying goodbye

DOWNEY - Vicky Minamyer harbors fond memories of spending the holidays at her grandfather's bicycle shop, Russell's Bicycles, in Downey. "I grew up in the shop with my grandparents and brothers -- it was a family business," said Minamyer, whose father James Wagy later acquired the store.

Yet after three generations of ownership, the Minamyer and her brothers have now sold the building their grandparents purchased nearly 70 years ago in 1944.

"My two younger brothers...neither one decided to go into the business so we're planning to move to Northern California for retirement," Minamyer said. "It is very bittersweet, there are a lot of emotions tied to that shop, but this is the time."

In a final act of charity to the community, the Wagy family donated two blue tricycles to the recreational therapy department of Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center that will help reintroduce leisure activity to dozens of patients recovering from brain and spinal cord injuries. Jeff Flynn, the current owner of Russell's Bicycles, delivered the tricycles last Wednesday to a jubilant audience of recreational staff who immediately let patients ride them around the parking lot.

"We don't often receive a donation like this," said Christina Webster, recreational therapy supervisor at Rancho Los Amigos.

"A donation like this will be used during leisure activities for patients recovering from stroke or brain injuries, even spinal cord injuries. We have 80 to 150 patients and this will lift their spirits." Webster said debilitating conditions can often convince patients that they will never again perform recreational activities like riding a bike.

"Self-esteem won't let them do activities they did prior, but we want to adapt them and help them get back to life," said Webster. "And three-wheel bikes are ideal for trunk control, balance control, strength and reconditioning."

Minamyer said the family donated the $1,100 pair of tricycles to Rancho Los Amigos in honor of her father, James, who received treatment from the rehabilitation center after a near fatal car accident in 1981 that left him paralyzed.

"We're so happy to give these bikes to the therapy department in memory of my dad," she said. "They helped him so much during a very difficult time." Although the Wagy family sold their building at 8027 Firestone Blvd., a local investor-accountant recently purchased the property and agreed to let Russell's Bicycles continue its bike business on the lot, Minamyer said.

"Russell's Bicycles will still be there," she said. "We just wanted to go out with something like this, giving back to the community."

********** Published: December 27, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 37