A long-time friend of mountain bike pioneer Charlie Cunningham and his wife singlespeed racer Jacquie Phelan has started a Gofundme campaign to raise money to help pay for Cunningham’s rehabilitation, including retrofitting his house for wheelchair use. The master framebuilder fell from his bike in Marin County in August and thought himself lucky not to be badly injured. However, complications arose which required emergency brain surgery. Caroline James created the Gofundme campaign in order to offset from the costs from the fall-out from his brain surgery, including adapting his and Phelan’s house. James is also the designer of Cunningham’s website.
Cunningham was one of the early MTB innovators and was based in Fairfax, California, where he still lives.[Disclaimer: I visited Charlie and Jacquie at their Fairfax home – “Offhand Manor” – in May this year. As an MTB history geek it was an honour to watch the reclusive but brilliant Charlie work at his famous lathes and to see seminal mountain bikes and parts propped up around the place.]
Cunningham worked in aluminium, one of the first MTB builders to do so and he came up with a great many innovations that became standard on mountain bikes. He was also a co-founder of Wilderness Trail Bikes, WTB.
James’ campaign says:
”Charlie suffered broken bones, bruises and trauma to his head. At the time, he didn’t feel his head injury was significant. Unfortunately, six weeks later, the head injury manifested into a subdural hematoma, a life-threatening condition that resulted in emergency brain surgery," the campaign reads.
Cunningham was wearing a helmet during the fateful ride.
The campaign has a goal of raising $100,000. It has so far raised $34,331 from nearly 500 contributors.
The Gofundme campaign continues: “Currently, Charlie is in the hospital, recovering. His condition is stable, semi-conscious, but he cannot walk, talk or safely swallow food yet. He is making very slow steps to regain very basic tasks. The road to recovery is going to be long and involve many specialists to help him get back to his former self.”
“We decided, Caroline and I, that CC has to learn to accept help, after 67 years of impressive self-sufficiency and mastery. Gonna be a wild ride for him.”