You may not remember when BikeHouston transitioned from a scrappy, all-volunteer organization to a scrappy, full-time nonprofit advocacy group. That transition was successful, and it couldn’t have happened without Rick Hecksel.
Around the time that BikeHouston was establishing itself and taking on staff, Rick was wrapping up a long career as a CPA. Volunteer talent was — and still is — essential to the organization, so Rick took on the finances. He’s been a member and volunteer since 2015, putting in between 10 and 15 hours a week.
“Rick Hecksel has been an unsung BikeHouston hero for a long time,” says John Long, executive director. “He’s like a great bike mechanic: He keeps us running smoothly without drawing attention to himself.”
Rick brings not only professional skills, but a passion for cycling to his role. He’s logged 20 MS 150 rides in five states, and a 3,700-mile cross country ride with his wife Mary.
“About 25 years ago I contracted Guillain-Barre syndrome, which is similar to MS. I used in-line skating and then cycling as a way to prove to myself that I could still have physical events in my life,” Rick says. “My first MS event was Mary’s idea to have a shared common physical goal.”
In keeping with his volunteer spirit, Rick became a ride marshal for the MS Society, and eventually a League-certified instructor with the League of American Bicyclists. That led to a friendship with former BikeHouston board chair Regina Garcia, who brought him on board as an accountant.
The toughest part of keeping the books for a small nonprofit: Helping the staff and board make the best financial decisions.
“BikeHouston has a small operating budget so every contribution, whether it’s through membership or volunteer time, makes a direct impact on our ability to make Houston a better city for cycling,” he says.
As much as BikeHouston’s staff appreciates Rick, the feeling is mutual.
“What a great group of staff and volunteers that are working day-in and day-out trying to make cycling better and safer in Houston,” he says.