Bike Fort Collins first launched You Know Me. I Ride a Bike. back in 2009, where we featured local residents, for whom riding bikes is big part of their life in a broader awareness campaign. Beginning in 2021, we are excited to reintroduce this bio-series, where we feature one new Fort Collins resident each month here on our news-blog/website, as well as through The Pedal Post eNewsletter and our social channels, highlighting their love for bikes and for riding them. Please join us and read on, as we hear their stories and learn more about these remarkable folks who live and ride right here in our community.
November 2021: Initha Stuckey, MD
….by Anna Kelso, BFC Community Relations Coordinator
To try to tell the full story of Initha Stuckey and her love of bikes in a single edition of You Know Me would be both short sighted and foolhardy. Her life reads more like a novel than anyone I’ve met to date, and her joyful, vivacious, warrior spirit stretches to the horizon and clear into the next galaxy. She has known more than her fair share of life’s pitfalls and curveballs and continues to strive and persevere, deriving much of her life’s joy from the simple love of the ride.
Originally from San Francisco, Initha spent the majority of her youth in the Los Angeles area. She credits her grandmother (and her grandmother’s patrons) for instilling in her an enduring focus on persistent, patient, positivity. Hearing the stories and experiences of the people who regularly gathered at her grandmother’s poker house gave Inithia a lens and perspective on life not common for most young girls of her age. A skilled poker player herself, Initha’s first car came from one of her grandmother’s winnings.
At the age of 17, on a leisurely bike ride with her boyfriend, Initha was tragically hit by a car, a hit-and-run offense. Left lying in the yard of a neighboring house, one look at her leg and Initha knew it was over. She spent days in agonizing pain at the hospital while medical professionals tried to save her leg, a valiant attempt that was ultimately unsuccessful. Grateful to be relieved of the pain, Inithia was still recovering from surgery when she received her acceptance letter from Stanford University. From her hospital bed, Inithia was not discouraged by the loss of her leg, but instead eager to begin her new life as a college student and all the promise and opportunity that lay ahead.
During her time at Stanford she slowly became more confident, capable and comfortable riding her bike again. She particularly liked riding her bike on campus, where she knew she was safe from cars. Palo Alto, a college town, provides more safe opportunities for bicycle transportation than your typical town, even in the 70s. Initha appreciated this, and the life she was able to live as an amputee by bike. After finishing her dual degree in Biology and Anthropology from Stanford, Intiha went on to earn her medical degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C..
Moving to Denver in 1992 with a husband and a growing family, Initha accepted a geriatric fellowship in the Department of Family Practice at UC Health. During her time in Denver she was employed as a contractor for insurance agencies and regularly traveled up to Fort Collins to give medical physicals for potential policy holders. She quickly realized how very similar Fort Collins was to Palo Alto and all the amenities that come with a college town… bicycle friendly streets in particular.
With six children to raise and a family to support, Initha knew Fort Collins was the place she wanted to call home. Moving here in 1995, she looked forward to bringing her family to a town where her children were able to ride their bikes to school and enjoy the accepting culture more commonly associated with higher education. From Initha’s perspective, a well educated town also means less racism. Initha felt safer raising her family of color in a town that was less likely to be marred with bigotry, and a university town seemed to be just the place.
After a series of events following COVID, Initha and members of her family are temporarily unhoused as she positions for her next leap in life. It is her ambition to reinstate her medical license, a process that will lead her back to D.C. temporarily, but she promises to return to her house call practice. Offering in-home medical care to folks experiencing mobility limitations is a very real and present issue in transportation equity, and one that is very close to Initha’s heart.
And through all of this, Initha is never so happy as when she is riding her bike. Riding her bike not only offers reprieve from the weight and strain of her prosthetic, but also freedom and joy and love for life. In her own words, “it was always about the bike.” She moved here specifically because it was a place she knew her family could happily live a life by bike, a vision she saw clearly so many years ago. Her bright smile and heartfelt laugh is proof of this.
Initha’s story is more common than I think many of us would like to know or admit. These are hard truths, and life can be unforgiving. Through it all, Initha is a warrior woman and continues to navigate her way through life with heart and determination and, of course, her bike.
Please consider a donation towards helping Initha purchase a new prosthetic, one that will be more comfortable and bicycle compatible. Details on these efforts to follow.
Find past You Know Me. I Ride a Bike. stories here.