03 A Win-Win
“I flew 150 feet down the highway. When I came to a stop, this foot was on my left knee, pointed at me,” Kevin Alexander said to Gary and Donovan in the garage at the Rupert’s Kids offices. “Stuff that was on the inside, was now on the outside.”
He lifts his right leg off the ground, and reaches down to rap the back of his right calf with his knuckles. The rap echoed with the sound of hard plastic instead of soft flesh. “Without that brace, my foot would just flop when I pick my leg up.”
“I didn’t die when I hit the car… I didn’t die when [the second car] hit me,” Alexander ticks off reasons on is fingers. “I didn’t die on the table. There has got to be a reason I’m still here. If I’m still here, what is that I’ve got, that others don’t have, that doesn’t cost me anything?” He explains why he’s been looking for a way to do what Rupert’s motto says: Give back. He started showing up and donating his time at the charity after he heard Rupert was looking for someone skilled with engine repair to help train the guys in the program on the skills they need to keep their mower engines, or even their car engines running.
“I am involved with Rupert’s kids because of who they help. They have been given the short end of the stick,” Alexander says a week later when he returns for a second session teaching. He and Rupert roll the bike they’ll be working on out of the garage, and into the driveway outside the Rupert’s Kid’s headquarters in Indianapolis. He suspects the brakes need some work. He shows the guys from Rupert’s Kids how to remove the cap from the fluid reservoir, and add more of the purple brake fluid.
A smile lights up his face as he uses one hand to tug at the long, straight black hair now streaked with grey. He absentmindedly bunches it together behind his head, as if to make a ponytail, then drops it. His other hand is busy squeezing, then releasing the brake handle on a motorcycle. Small bubbles are slowly being released to float in the brake fluid reservoir next to the lever.
Giving back is the theme of Alexander’s involvement in Rupert’s Kids. Just like Rupert’s own motto for life, Alexander has found that life following the accident that almost cost him his life, then his leg IS good. He used to own one of Indianapolis’ top custom-built motorcycle shops, he’s lent his expertise to several Hollywood movies based on motorcycles. Now, he wants to give back.
“I’m a fan of Rupert from Survivor,” Alexander explains. “He’s a hands on guy with his charity. He’s not ‘Oh, I’m a celebrity’ and throwing money at something. He’s doing it… What [these] kids are in need of is something I can give.”
The tie-dye custom built motorcycle sitting in the garage at Rupert’s kids was the focus of Alexander’s giving back. A few moments before, five participants in the mentoring program watched and learned as Alexander began explaining the basics of how the engine works. That day, they had removed the carburetor in preparation for cleaning it the following week, and began basic maintenance of airing up tires, and adding essential fluids, such as brake fluid.
“We’re going to have to bleed this line,” Alexander adds to Rupert, as the last of the participants waves and heads back home.
“No problem man,” Rupert adds. He’s been riding motorcycles for decades, but even he was interested in learning from Alexander. “We just want the guys to learn, and if we can get this bike back into top shape, we’ll auction it off and use the money to help Rupert’s Kids.”
That money will be welcome, as Rupert is eying an impending expansion into one of the “doughnut” counties around Indianapolis. Marion County, which Indianapolis sprawls throughout, is ringed by I-465, a round “doughnut” of a highway. If Indianapolis is the hole, the nine counties surrounding Marion and I-465 are the bread of the doughnut.
“Here in Marion County, saving the county a million dollars by getting some of these kids out of the cycle of being locked up is small change,” Rupert explains often when he’s speaking about the upcoming expansion. “But, if we can show how Shelby County can save money by changing how they look at young offenders, and break them out of the revolving door cycle of incarceration early, that matters a lot more to their county budgets.”