A Tribute to Waldo and Charity:
|Most motorcyclists in the Phoenix area are familiar with the names Waldo and Charity. In the past few years,
I have attended as many motorcycle related activities as my time alows, and invariably Waldo and Charity will be
actively involved in some aspect of every event. In Thunder Press, I, like all other bikers, can catch up on just
about every Arizona motorcycle happening by reading Waldo's stories. How do they do it? I have come to believe
that the two of them live and breath motorcycles and events surrounding the motorcycle phenomena. They might even
"eat" motorcycles, or at least a lot of dust driving to and from the surrounding areas promoting the
Every year since 1988, the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM) has capped off their annual Convention with the Silver Spoke Awards Banquet, honoring outstanding members of the motorcycling community for their contributions to the motorcycling life style. The honorees are selected from four primary areas: Government, Commerce, Media and Entertainment. Past recipients in all categories have included Malcom Forbes, Peter Fonda, U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, and Lou Kimzey of Easyriders Magazine.
The 15th Annual NCOM Convention was held May 11-13, 2000, in San Francisco, California. Silver Spoke Award winners included Louisiana Governor Mike Foster, The Fryed Brothers Band, Branscombe Richmond, Oliver Shokouh, and our own Waldo and Charity Stuart, for their media contributions.
How many people who read Waldo's stories and column really know anything about him? He gives little bits and pieces of information about himself occasionally, but I decided I wanted to find out what drives this man in his obsession with the motorcycle community. When I first met Waldo, I must say that I was a bit intimidated. He has a full beard, and long wild hair, and an 'in control' attitude. Wheelchair bound, he maneuvers a standard '92 FLTCU Ultra TourGlide with an Ultra Sidecar, which was adapted for him by Jerry Chosa. Waldo got the idea for powering the bike when he found out that they were using Air Rams and Compressed Air (for up shifting) in drag racing applications. He uses a couple of electro-pnuematic switches, an on-board compressor, and an air tank. For brakes, they took the rear (foot actuated) master cylinder off, got another front (hand actuated) master cylinder, and mounted it above the original front master with a bracket and extended rear view mirror post. They cut the extra brake handle off and welded it back together so that the handle was offset, closer to and parallel with the front brake handle. After 200,000 miles, they have never been stranded, except for blown tires!
Waldo Stuart spent his tender young years with as much intensity as he would later devote to motorcycles. At the age of two, he fell out of a second story window and broke both legs, and spent one long, miserable year in a full body (chest to toe) cast. Age 3 saw him driving a John Deere tractor pulling grain up the road of the farm while his dad followed with the cornpicker. By second grade he was into the opposite sex, and by age ten, he had a job moving pianos to save for his first motorcycle, a Whizzer.
At eleven, he took 3rd place in the Michigan State Diving Championships, and by 12, he had set the Jackson City Record in the 200 yard Freestyle, a record that still stands today. By age fifteen, he was kicked off the Swim Team at the first away swim meet for having sex in the stairwell with an old girlfriend!
At eighteen, he enlisted in the US Army, and was a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was awarded the 82nd's highest Division Award (The Airborne Award) twice; first for being the distinguished honor graduate of Recondo School" and then for being the distinguished honor graduate of "Armorer School". On his nineteenth birthday he started skydiving at the Green Beret Sport Parachute Club, and participated in the Military Sky diving World Championships. He was a member of the winning 8-Man Star Team, and owned and jumped one of the very first "hand deployed" WonderHogs (a piggyback harness and container system) ever produced. Waldo transferred to Special Forces and was a distinguished honor graduate of "Q" (Special Forces Qualification) and accepted to the 10th Special Forces Group ODA336 (Green Beret "A" Team) at Fort Devens, Mass. He also attended Special Forces Scuba in Key West Florida and graduated as a distinguished honor graduate. At age 22, he opted out of the Army, one of his only regrets in life.
Waldo rode his '54 Pan-Shovel all over the country with a buddy named Royce, skydiving, building parachute gear and partying, (something he still enjoys today!)
From 1979 until 1986, he spent most of his time in the construction of skydiving harnesses and container systems, and contributed to the implementation of an "Accelerated Freefall Training Course" at the Deland Airport. He participated in the Skydiving World Championships in Zephyrhills, and attended Community College. And then, his life changed.
On June 12th, 1986, Waldo took his very first ride on a Honda ATC three-wheeler. For a half-hour, he had the time of his life, and then he tipped over, and broke his neck.
August 1st, 1986 was the day he left the hospital, and on August 30th, of the same year, the pride of his life, Charity Ann Stuart, was born. Within one month of her birth, Waldo became her sole parent, something that he would not change, and a responsibility, which is devoted to. When he talks about Charity, this rough looking guy turns into a kind of marshmallow. She is the absolute pride and joy of his life. They have spent the past 13 years living life as not many dad's and daughters live. Together, they have ridden to Daytona, Sturgis, Four Corners, Laughlin, partied with Kyle Petty, Peter Fonda, Larry Hagman, the entire Willie G Davidson family, Jay Leno, Linda and Ben "Nighthorse""Campbell, and who knows who else. Waldo's face beams as he tells about Charity and how she can push start the bike with her dad on it, changes the oil and the rear tire, and packs and unpacks the bike. She is loving and caring, and has earned numerous awards and certificates for Citizenship, Outstanding Achievement, Student of the Month, and Academics. Charity developed all the black and white photos before Waldo switched to color, and she does all the shopping and banking. Being around all the bikers has made her a bit of a celebrity of her own. She makes flyers for events, takes pictures, sells 50/50 tickets, works the AIM table, and helps her dad a lot. I have personally sat at the dinner table with them at "Cyclerides.com night", and was impressed by her respectful attitude towards her dad, and his compassionate understanding for her typical teenage wants.
Waldo has tackled and accomplished so many feats since his accident; they are too numerous to mention. What did I learn? That this is one hell of a guy, and his determination and drive for life and liberty has no end. What ever lies ahead for this duo will always be met head on, and with gusto. Congratulations to you both for the well deserved Silver Spoke Award.