Faces of Christmas

How a Fresno couple is helping the community through their bicycle shop

John and Vanessa McCracken, owners of Sunnyside Bicycles, partner with the nonprofit Best Buddies fundraiser to help people with development disabilities in the area.
John and Vanessa McCracken, owners of Sunnyside Bicycles, partner with the nonprofit Best Buddies fundraiser to help people with development disabilities in the area. ezamora@fresnobee.com

The basics: John and Vanessa McCracken, a married couple, are the founders of Sunnyside Bicycles in southeast Fresno.

What they do: Through Sunnyside Bicycles, the McCrackens strive to inspire people to start riding bikes and also educate about the benefits of bike riding. In addition to providing bicycle equipment, the store hosts bike rides, clinics and gives back to the community.

Ten percent of profits from all Sunnyside Bicycles-branded items are donated to different local organizations about every three months. The 10 percent of profits from the months of October, November and December will be donated to the Fresno Rescue Mission.

The store also provides the Kids Trade-Up Program: Customers who trade in a child’s 12- or 16-inch bike can get 50 percent off of the child’s next bike. The child’s older bike is then refurbished and donated to families in need through the Fresno Rescue Mission.

Why they do it: “We are a community, and I truly believe that bicycles have the power of engaging and building the community, and the community is what built my store up, helped us achieve success,” John McCracken said. “So it’s only fair that we give back to the community that gives so much.”

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John and Vanessa McCracken, owners of Sunnyside Bicycles, partner with the nonprofit Best Buddies fundraiser to help people with development disabilities in the area. ERIC PAUL ZAMORA ezamora@fresnobee.com

The turning point: One day when the McCrackens went out for a drive, Vanessa asked John, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” She recalled him saying, “It’d be awesome to own a bike shop. We’d get to work together.” The next day, they saw a newspaper advertisement saying a bike shop in Madera was for sale. They bought that store in 2002, and in 2010, moved their shop to Fresno.

Details, details: Sunnyside Bicycles was awarded the city of Fresno Disability Advisory Commission Achievement Award in October for its “outstanding and dedicated service (and) improving the quality of lives for individuals with disabilities,” by helping to raise $100,000 for Best Buddies. The nonprofit sponsors programs like the Best Buddies Friends Program, through which people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are paired with nondisabled people, which can lead to friendships.

John McCracken also represents District 5 for the city of Fresno Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee. He represents the committee at a monthly City Hall meeting with the Public Works Department, recommends where the city should consider placing bike lanes and discusses current bike lane issues. He is also advocacy director on the Fresno Cycling Club board and was nominated for the Fresno County Bicycle Coalition board.

What others say: “Vanessa and John inspire me to be more compassionate, kind and visionary. Not only are they two of the most hardworking, genuine, and humble people I know, but they are also fiercely passionate about supporting people to become fully alive and their best self,” said Ashton Hiebert, who met John and Vanessa in 2015. “They deeply care about their community and are committed to putting people first.” (NOTE: The original version of this story incorrectly attributed the quote to Christopher Montross, who also spoke to The Bee about the McCrackens.)

How you can help: If interested in donating, participating in bike rides, clinics and the Best Buddies program, contact the McCrackens at info@sunnysidebicycles.com.

Chueyee Yang: 559-441-6447, @chueyee15

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