A tragic accident in 2010 changed the course of Tom Hanley’s life and opened the door to an unimagined career of service.
The life-changing accident took place on Hanley’s wedding day. He, his bride and their wedding party were involved in a car accident, killing Hanley’s best friend. In the weeks following the accident, which received local media attention, Hanley was deeply moved by the outreach of people in Central Indiana – from first responders and people at the hospital to strangers who had read news reports.
Hanley came to Indianapolis in 2004 to attend Marian University and pursue a career as a competitive bicyclist. An Ohio native, he had no intention of settling down in Indianapolis, let alone pursuing nonprofit leadership. “The outpouring of love and support from total strangers helped me see what a special place Central Indiana is. It helped guide me to this path to give back,” Hanley said.
In response, Hanley started Nine13sports in 2012 to inspire children across Central Indiana to experience the joy of riding bicycles. As a child, Hanley and his friends loved riding bikes through their neighborhood. But a range of modern-day dynamics including unsafe streets and the prevalence of digital devices has prevented many children from learning to ride. Nine13sports brings the experience of cycling to schools and community centers using high-tech stationary bikes with digital simulation to inspire kids to love riding and become more active.
At the center of this innovative program is introducing bicycling to students at their school during physical education. For many children, it’s their first time ever riding a bicycle. The goal is to help each child learn about teamwork, perseverance and the joy of cycling.
Nine13sports believes in serving kids of all backgrounds with a focus on underserved youth. The organization estimates more than 80 percent of participants take part in free or reduced-cost lunch programs. In the first year, Nine13sports served more than 1,000 children in Central Indiana. In 2018, the organization hopes to serve more than 30,000.
“My wish is that we naturally see people of all backgrounds and walks of life come to the table to help make a difference, to help solve problems,” Hanley said. “Some amazing people have made Indianapolis an incredible place. But in this moment in time I hope we will keep looking toward new thinkers, designers and problem solvers to lead us into the next 40 years.”