OGDEN, Iowa -- We met Jimmy Merrill last winter. He turns trash into treasures and donates them to charities.
Before we left, he wanted to show us his new project, donated by girl in Boone.
“She thought it’d be really neat if I could rebuild this bike," said Merrill, "make it purple, and give it to the Shepard family.”
Since 2013, the Shepard family has traveled the state pushing for tougher laws on sex offenders, like the one who murdered daughter Kathlynn. Merrill thought a special donation might help their costs or at least their spirits.
“And it’s gonna be beautiful!" he told us. "I tell you, it’ll be one of my better pieces of work! It’ll have headlights, taillights…”
We left thinking “If he’s THIS excited now…we can’t wait to see the result.” And you know what? Jimmy Merrill was as good as his word.
We visited him in Ogden this week, where he unveiled his new masterpiece.
“Ladies and gentlemen…here it is! Kathlynn’s Hope Bike!” he shouted.
It’s a stunner, gleaming in purple paint and shiny chrome.
“One of the most gorgeous pieces of art I have ever seen in my life,” he adds.
But this time he won’t take all the credit.
“I kinda got a lot of wonderful people together and we built this thing in 67 days.”
Businesses around Boone County were happy to donate money and man hours. They painted and detailed the bike and added new parts. Merrill did handcraft the engine.
“That’s real Iowa walnut, from the Des Moines River valley.”
And this baby is set to ride. He’ll present the bike to the Shepards this week, as a gesture of support from their community.
He gets emotional about it.
“I wanna cry when I think of how many people’s hearts went into building this for the Shepard family.”
The tears will dry quickly, because he’s already moved on to the next idea, something for the St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis.
They say "It's not the gift--it's the thought which counts.
But when it comes from Jimmy Merrill, you get both.