Main Street pedicabs Broomfield CO
“Hey, Rickshaw Willie, ” someone calls out as Tim Wilhelm drives his Pedicab down Main Street in Akron, Ohio. It’s a common occurrence these days, as Wilhelm, aka “Rickshaw Willie, ” has become somewhat of a local celebrity.
“Everybody has to have their picture taken with Rickshaw Willie, ” Wilhelm says. “People are hugging me all the time, and kids will run out to the edge of the curb to high-five me as I drive down the road. Even some local business owners came up to me while I was eating dinner and told my wife that I had become a downtown Akron icon.”
But it was only about a year ago when the 54-year-old Wilhelm found himself depressed and at a crossroads in his life. A truck driver for 31 years, Wilhelm became the victim of a sagging economy when the trucking company he works for merged with another and then decided to take him out of his truck and onto the loading dock.
Not one to just sit around, Wilhelm went online looking for a new opportunity and came across Main Street Pedicabs, a manufacturer of Pedicabs in Broomfield, Colorado.
“I watched some of their videos and I thought that this was something I could do, ” he says. “But people kept telling me that I was crazy and too old to do it.”
One of those skeptics was his wife of 30 years, Lori.
“When Tim first spoke of a rickshaw last winter, I thought it was just a way to pass the time while he was laid off, ” she says. “No way would a rickshaw work in Akron.”
But Wilhelm defied the naysayers and purchased the Pedicab anyway. Ten months later, he has had encounters with celebrities, has endeared himself to the community and has become stronger, both mentally and physically.
“As soon as I got the Pedicab and started riding it, I realized that I wasn’t too old, and I was actually getting younger as I was riding it, ” he says. “I felt younger in my mind, but my body was definitely getting stronger, too.”
Wilhelm’s first official day out with his new Pedicab was during Akron’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. When some of the parade organizers saw him dressed for the occasion on his decorated Pedicab, they asked Wilhelm if he would drive Akron’s beauty queen through the parade route.
“It was a big hit and everyone enjoyed it, so I knew I was onto something, ” he says. “I knew with this Pedicab that I had something special and unique in its own way, so I started volunteering for the Kids Bike Rodeo and other events.”
One of those events was a charity pub crawl to raise money for cancer research in Barberton, Ohio. Wilhelm volunteered to drive people from one bar to the next. He kept people from drinking and driving, but he also learned that he had gained a key ally.
“At about midnight that night, a Barberton policeman pulled up beside me in his cruiser, gave me a thumbs-up and told me I had done a real good job, ” he says.
Wilhelm also has volunteered for events with the Copley Police Department, and even let Chief of Police Michael Mier drive him around in the Pedicab.
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