The one consistent in Donald Yarberry’s life has been bicycles.
From the time he was a young child, born in Paris, Texas and raised in Whitt, wherever he’s gone, it’s usually been on a bicycle. So, as an adult now, he understands how important a bicycle is to a youngster.
And he’s doing all he can to make sure every youth in Azle (where he lives now) has one. Don collects old bicycles and those in need of repair, fixes them up, and donates them to youngsters.
“Growing up in the country we always had bicycles to ride and plenty of places to ride. We were very poor but always had the things we needed,” he recalled. “So when a bicycle broke, it was up to us to repair them. It just sort of came natural to me.”
Don also knew how special it was to have something to call his own. A bike was a perfect way for a young boy to make new friends.
“All my friends got to riding around as a group, usually from one friend’s house to another,” he said. “It was during this time that I started pushing myself to ride farther and farther on just my little 20-inch BMX bike. Some days I would ride 10 to 20 miles. I could even convince a friend or a cousin to ride with me.
“Many great memories were made during these rides. I also dedicated as much time as could to going to my church and doing church activities.
“For many years I fell away from God. But there was always one constant in my life. I always had a bicycle or multiple bicycles,” he said.
Then, on the final day of his eighth-grade school year, he found out his dad had passed away from a heart attack. Most of the men on his dad’s side of the family passed away from heart attacks. So in Don’s mind if he rode bicycles it would keep his heart healthy.
“I started taking rides sometimes up to 60 miles or more. Plus, for me riding is almost an escape from reality. I can just meditate and go into a daydream state of mind,” he said.
As he got older and started working after high school he used a bicycle as his only means of travel. He rode 10 miles to work every day and 10 miles home, no matter the weather.
“In the rain, extreme heat, and even during a few ice storms. I never missed a day. I believed that everyone needed to ride more and drive less,” he said, a philosophy he still subscribes to.
Eventully, Don met the love of his life and he and Christine were married. They had a son, Logan, in 2011 and daughter Victoria seven years apart and life got busier.
Also, they discovered Logan has autism. He doesn’t share his dad’s love of bicycles and never learned to ride one. However, another love he shared with his father, church, led to the family volunteering in many ways, including with a local Azle nonprofit called Servolution.
“Servolution does many wonderful things for our community. It is volunteering with them that started to feel that I was being called to help others. I craved ways to help as many people as I possibly could,” Don said.
Including children and bicycles. So he went on Facebook asking for bicycles to be donated to me to fix up and pass along to children.
“I truly believe it is my calling. I expected to get a few and ended up getting about 50. I will admit I was a bit overwhelmed at first,” he said.
“When I got a few fixed I would find people on Facebook that needed them.”
Soon people started contacting him asking if he had
“I do as many as I can, but I also work a full-time job plus church,” Don said. “I make no money for this, even though people have offered to pay. Get them for free and give them for free.”
Three years ago Don began noticing an increase in homeless people in the area. It sparked another idea.
“It was winter time and I started seeing so many without ways to stay warm. I talked to my wife and decided to try and collect some stuff for the homeless to stay warm,” he said.
“That was our first Helping the Homeless event. We collected way more then we ever thought that we would. So much we had to rent a storage room.”
Don and Christine then partnered with a few local groups to give clothing and blankets out to those in need. And now, this year they held their third annual event on Oct. 15. They focus on blankets, socks, warm clothing, sleeping bags and more. They also accept toiletries, food and such.
“We unfortunately just don’t have a way to hold and store the items for very long,” he noted, so if anyone is willing to help in that department, contact him on Facebook. Ditto for bicycles. If you have a bike in need of repair, don’t throw it away. Don has a place for it – in the arms and heart of a child.