Titan 100 Logo
Recognizing 100 CEOs & C-level Executives
Brad Appel - Wish for Wheels

Brad Appel


Wish for Wheels

Location: Denver

Founded: 2004

Industry: Nonprofit

When Brad Appel was young, growing up in Westchester, NY, his parents would kick him out of the house on weekends to find his friends. With a bike and the activity and freedom that came with it, Appel found that riding a bike cleared his mind, improved his focus on schoolwork and helped him grow social friendships. “Without this, I would have never found my way to becoming an entrepreneur and finding success in corporate America,” he said. “I realized other kids, especially low-income kids, do not have bikes or ways to explore and connect in their community,” said Appel.

This realization led to the launch of Wish for Wheels, a nonprofit organization to empower the well-being of kids, families and communities. This organization supports a mission to give a new bike and helmet to second graders in low-income Title I schools. “What started as a passionate side project, turned into my full-time life’s work,” Appel said.

Since its inception in 2004, with Appel at the helm of the nonprofit, Wish for Wheels has impacted more than 75,000 kids with new bikes and helmets and engaged over 50,000 volunteers and community partners. Based in Denver with a national footprint through the U.S., the organization has sponsored events in Israel and Peru. Wish for Wheels has created a social enterprise where 95% of revenue comes from partners who fund, build and donate the bikes. In addition, Appel has been instrumental in growing the organization to $1.2 million in revenue.

“A new bike is more than a bike – a new bike brings freedom, responsibility, community development, engagement and self-esteem,” said Appel. “We see firsthand how the bikes shift the community we are engaged with and every year, there is a new set of second graders we can impact.”

The impact has prompted corporate philanthropy with partners in the community as well as the development of Beyond the Bell and Community Repair, an after-school program that gets kids riding and a bike repair program for first responders, schools and local rec centers.

Under Appel’s leadership, the organization has been honored with the Walmart Community Partnership Award, the City of Sheridan Award, the City of Commerce City Community Award and many others.

“Building a strong board, a strong community, a strong team and growing as a leader has helped me develop into the leader that I am today,” said Appel. “The thing that moves and inspires me the most and keeps me going is the impact Wish for Wheels has on the children that we serve.”

Presented by:

Did you know?

I normally would answer sleep – I’m a great sleeper as it’s my place to recharge and reconnect with myself. I can sleep anywhere, anytime, through anything – I once slept through a 6+ earthquake on a High School trip. However, I’ve learned that I also have a superpower of being fearless in asking. I will ask anyone for anything – the answer is no if you don’t ask so why not try. If the ask is genuine and helps everyone involved then the ask is worth it!


Select your market(s)*