Bike safety fest recalls EV cyclist Saks - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Voices

Bike safety fest recalls EV cyclist Saks

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Mike Sakal’s column runs on Fridays. Contact him at (480) 898-6533 or, or write to Mike Sakal, East Valley Tribune, 1620 W. Fountainhead Pkwy., Suite 219, Tempe, AZ 85282

Posted: Friday, September 28, 2012 7:37 am | Updated: 11:04 am, Fri Sep 28, 2012.

It’s been nearly four years since bicyclist Dr. Brett Saks was tragically struck and killed by a motorist, but his name and love for the sport is far from forgotten.

And his plans for establishing programs to provide financial support for disabled children and other bicycling programs will not go unfinished.

As part of the nonprofit Brett Saks Foundation, the inaugural Brett Saks Bike Safety Festival will be 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30 in Chandler’s Tumbleweed Park, 745 E. Germann Road, in south Chandler where Saks lived with his family and had his chiropractic office, not only physically mending people, but inspiring them to reach personal goals.

A husband, father, son, brother, uncle, friend and chiropractor, Saks had recently turned 40 and was on the final training session for a 600-mile charity bike ride from San Francisco to San Diego when he was struck and killed on Oct. 4, 2008 on State Route 87 near Coolidge by a motorist under the influence of sleeping pills. Soon after his death, Saks’ wife, Kim, and his family formed the foundation in his name with a mission to help raise money for disabled bicyclists, educate the public about bicycle safety, and advocate for responsible use of prescription sleep medications.

Brett was survived by his wife, Kim, and two children, son Aaron, who now is 10, and Ana, 4. A silver “ghost bicycle” is placed at mile marker 141 on State Route 87 as a memorial where Brett was killed.

He had discovered bicycling when he was seeking a way to get in shape and to exercise, and it was love at first sight, his widow, Kim told the Tribune on Thursday.

“Brett was a very, very special individual,” Kim Saks said.

Brett was a native of Florida and Kim was a native of Georgia, and the two met while attending college at Florida State University when he was a guitarist in a local band.

“The minute you met him, you’d feel like you knew him forever,” Kim said. “That was the kind of person he was. When people would go see him at his doctor’s office, they just thought they were going to see the doctor. Not only did he help people reach their health goals, but their life goals as well.”

A family-oriented event, the safety fest will focus on bike safety and awareness, feature a bike ride for groups 6 and older and one for those 5 and younger, and will benefit Arizona Disabled Sports, which is in need of hand-pedal bicycles to accommodate disabled bicyclists.

The cost for a family to attend the safety fest is $5, and the cost for a family to ride in the 6-and-older ride is $30 and $15 for an individual; the 5-and-younger ride is free. The day also will feature an exhibit by BMX Stuntmasters and live music at the end of the day.

So far, there have been about 40 registrations for the event, and Kim Saks hopes to see many more turn out the day of the race.

“The focus will be on bicycle safety and awareness,” Kim said. “My main goal is to raise enough money to buy one hand-pedal bicycle for Arizona Disabled Sports. The bikes cost about $2,200 to $2,500, and they help to accommodate kids who can’t pedal a bike with their legs.”

“I want people who come to the event to learn how to be safer bicyclists on the road and leave here with that knowledge,” Kim added.

At the time of his death, Saks was organizing a charity ride to help raise funds to support disabled cyclists.

Saks wrote about his aspirations on his blog soon after participating in the Qualcomm Million Dollar Challenge in 2007, and those words have continued to ring true with the foundation’s mission today.

In the blog on his website,, Saks wrote:

“It started on a business trip to San Diego. I stopped by to visit my cousin Scott who lives there with his family. We’re driving to meet some friends, and he starts telling me about this charity bike ride. It’s a seven-day, 620-mile bicycle ride down the coast of California from San Francisco to San Diego. As he’s telling me about this ride, I start to have one of those movie moments where the voice of the person talking fades to the background and your own, narrated thoughts take over. As I faded back to the conversation, I responded by saying, ‘I’m doing it, too’.”

But Brett is very much missed by his family.

“This has been difficult for us and his family, but we wanted to turn this around and make it into something positive, and that’s the way Brett was.” Kim said. “I would love to be able to buy a whole fleet of hand-pedal bicycles, but since this is our first event, I hope we’re able to purchase at least one.

And on Sunday morning, it will be time to begin riding toward that goal.

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