AURORA | Bill Kosci, 72, eased a drill into the barn-red Town & Country Radio Flyer wagons at Children’s Hospital in Aurora.
“These wagons take a beating,” he explained, vertically attaching a long, red pole to the wood panels on the back of the wagon. “They are just used all day long, they take a whooping.” The pole is what allows patients to sit in the wagons and keep their IVs attached.
Bill, who said he started volunteering with Children’s in 2007, was initially drawn to fixing the wagons because he saw so many in disrepair in a hospital storage room.
Today, he says he has repaired hundreds if not thousands of Radio Flyers.
“I’m mechanically inclined. I enjoy that kind of work,” he said. The now-retired Exxon and Merck employee said he grew up repairing cars on his father’s used lot and even studied auto mechanics as a youth.
Bill and his wife, Linda, are dedicated volunteers at the hospital, volunteering every Monday in the hospital’s playroom on the sixth floor.
The Koscis say they moved to Colorado from New Jersey 10 years ago to enjoy their retirement. When they moved here, Bill purchased a motorcycle and joined the Rocky Mountain Harley Owner’s Group.
“At age 62, I decided I wanted to get a Harley. My family thought I had flipped out,” he said.
But it was the motorcycle that inspired him to volunteer at Children’s Hospital. Bill said that he and other Harley members have built 50 new wagons and put about 15 back into service for the hospital.
Kathleen McBride, who manages volunteers at Children’s, said the hospital’s partnership with Harley goes back 30 years. She said most people know the organization for the annual “Toy Run” it puts on, but don’t realize the group also contributes to wagon maintenance.
Though the wagons have existed at Children’s long before Harley started working with them, McBride said the organization is the only group that helps assemble and repair them.
“We would not have it right now in form that it exists if it were not for the Harleys,” she said.
She said the Harley volunteers also came up with the idea to attach a pole to the Radio Flyer so children can be transported with their IVs.
“They help us facilitate the healing process by allowing kids to get out of their room,” she said of the wagons. “This works really well for a 2-year-old who would not be able to be wheeled around in a wheelchair. It’s very safe.”
Dustin Hoekstra agrees. He was visiting Children’s on a recent Monday in May and said picking up a wagon to put his 2-year-old son Parker’s stuff in was the first thing he and his wife did once they arrived from their home in Casper, Wyo.
At 1 month old, Hoekstra said Parker had heart surgery at Children’s and returned to get an MRI.
“It was our best friend,” Hoekstra remembers of the red wagon during that precarious time. “It carries all of our stuff and our kid’s as well. It really helps calm the spirit.”