Pints and Pedals
What it is: Pub crawl on wheels that patrons power by peddling like a bikeSize: 30-foot-long bike accommodates up to 15 passengersRates: $25 per person, or $250 for the entire 15-person bike on weekdays and $290 on weekend nightsLength of tours: Two hours, usually traveling to three to five barsLocation: Downtown and SouthsideContact: On the web www.pintsandpedalstn.com or call 423-380-8359
After 10 years and more than $600,000 out of his family's pocket, local entrepreneur Chris Brown realized he only had to go as far as the downtown bars to find a way to help his brother.
Justin Brown was diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome when he was 23 years old and has been bedridden for most of his life ever since.
The debilitating chronic neurological condition, onset following a surgery, requires many treatments not covered by insurance policies including ketamine infusions to control otherwise unbearable pain.
At approximately $1,000 per infusion, Justin's severe case of nervous system malfunctioning causes relentless pain and is costly, rare and misunderstood.
"My parents' retirement is gone," Chris said. "They've dedicated their lives to him and my goal with Pints and Pedals is to support them as much as I can. They should be able to sit back and relax at this point and that's why I do Pints and Pedals and everything else I do."
The idea for the business was hatched several years ago after Chris, who also works in marketing for a consumer health care company, saw a similar concept in another state. In the fall of 2013, Chris made his business plan a reality with the help of several partners including his girlfriend, Suzanne Bidek.
However, the tour concept faced several setbacks, including the discovery that city ordinances would not permit the roaming 15-seater bike to bring beer on board. In April of 2014, city ordinance was changed to allow the pedi cab bar tour vehicle to include beer on the bike, which is often used to transport patrons between downtown night spots.
Since the beer policy change, Chris said, the business has proved profitable.
"My portion of the ownership goes directly back to my family to help Justin My brother told me I couldn't have started a cooler business to help him through this," he said with a laugh.
But as business improved for the brother in Chattanooga, his ailing sibling in Pennsylvania was suffering in his parents' Fort Washington, Penn., home.
"Justin has been deteriorating physically to the point that doctors are concerned he may never recover at all. The fear is a medication could be found to help, but he would be too far gone," he said.
To help control Justin's pain, dilaudid one of the most powerful pain pills available and a cocktail of other medications are given consistently. Warm water therapy is thought to be the best treatment option to rebuild his atrophying muscles, Chris said.
Outside of the business, the Brown family started a fundraising campaign on website YouCaring tp fund the warn water therapy pool. As of Friday, the crowdsourcing campaign had already raised $87,430, topping the $85,000 goal, with a few more days to go in the drive.
"They live in the northeast and the weather is not conducive to taking him outside at all," Chris said. "He slipped and fell last year and was screaming and screaming and just in horrible pain."
"When I started this fundraising campaign in September, I think the only person who didn't believe we could do this was me," he said. "This is our Christmas miracle this year. We're just hoping this will help Justin start on the long, slow road to recovery."
Now that the pool is paid for, Chris said his goal is to make enough money from his portion of the Pints and Pedals profit to cover Justin's $1,000 ketamine infusions. With the added pain of rebuilding muscles with therapy, ketamine doses could be required more frequently, he said.
For now, Justin passes his time watching TV and listening to his parents read to him he is unable to pick up a book himself.
"Ten years ago I was excited about graduating from college, starting my career, travelling with friends and starting a family That has all been taken away from me," Justin said in an email from his Pennsylvania home. "I now live in one room in my parents' house and almost never get outside because of the pain of moving and cannot perform any routine daily functions without help."
In spite of his current physical condition, he said he has not given up.
"I believe that giving up is not an option and that someday I will get better," he said. "The commitment my family and friends have to helping me recover from RSD inspires me to get better."
Chris said he has no plans to slow his growing business, which pulls both local and tourist interest. One day, he said, he hopes to cover all of his brother's medical costs with the Pints and Pedals revenue until a cure can be found.
"He's faced this for almost 10 years and he still talks about 'When I get better' because his spirit is so incredible," he said. "This is the least I can do."
Contact Gabrielle Chevalier at email@example.com or call 757-6439.