Rad Dads show the Fathers' Day love in the form of free bikes


– Photos by Cynthia Price

By Cynthia Price

It was a simple message.

Rad Dads’ Tacos and Tequila Bar co-owner Matt Gongalski posted a video on Facebook last April about how he had been moved when a group of young boys on bikes joined his family for a ride briefly, and then one asked, “Are you a family? And you’re their dad?” and then, unbelievingly, “And you ride a bike?” He and the other kids said they would love to go on a family bike ride.

Gongalski gave that thought for a couple years, and ultimately decided that, along with the other owner of Rad Dads’, Greg Chase, they would give away 100 bikes on Father’s Day, followed by a ride with the new bike-owners.

Gongalski said his dream was to gift 100 kids with bikes, along with a helmet and lock for each.

The dream came more than true.

As of 2:00 p.m. on June 16, after 63 Go Fund Me contributions of various amounts totalling $6300, bike donations and discounts, donation of all the helmets from Meijer Inc., and a lot of work (including putting the bikes together themselves),  Gongalski and Chase were able to give away 120 bikes.

Police vehicles then escorted the large group on a great-big-happy-family bike ride through Muskegon. Despite the rainy, fairly cold weather, everyone seemed to have a great time.
A number of people also had come to Rad Dads’ Tacos earlier for a free lunch.

Rad Dads’, which opened just last year in the Walker Arena, has an edgy menu with a few things other than tacos, an 80s throwback feel, and a view of both the outside through a cool garage door, and the events at the Arena.

Chase and Gongalski appear to be really good dads to their own families, with Chase’s kids playing a major role in monitoring the bike giveaway, done through vouchers given to organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club.

Norman Young was one of the people who arranged to give away the vouchers, and as the coordinator of the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District’s program Dads on Deck he focuses on fatherhood.

He notes there will be a fatherhood summit Oct. 26 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Kingdom Life Church (the home of Fresh Coast Alliance) about “creating a health coparenting relationship.” For more about the free event, which includes food, email DadsonDeck@muskegonisd.org.

Before the ride, Gongalski told  the “starfish story” – in which a child throwing starfish back into the sea so they won’t die on the beach is questioned by a man who points out that there are thousands of starfish on the shore and the kid can’t save them all, so his actions are useless. “Well, ask that starfish,” the child says as he throws another back.

“Every little action you take makes a difference,” Gongalski said.