BRATTLEBORO—When Kelli Worden was 7 years old, she asked her dad, Stanley Lynde, for a flute for Christmas. She got a yellow flute shaped like a banana — and a custom-built minibike.
This past week, after Lynde and his wife, Laura D’Angelo, were injured riding their motorcycle in a Sept. 25 accident — from which Lynde has yet to regain consciousness — Worden asked the community, via GoFundMe.com, for $20,000 to help with related expenses.
She got $80,000 and counting.
“The accident was on Monday evening,” Worden said. “Tuesday morning I had people messaging me, saying ‘What can we do?’ I set the GoFundMe [campaign] up at 9 or 10 that morning.”
Within a few hours, it was clear that the fund would meet its initial goal. Knowing that her father and stepmother had a long road ahead, Worden bumped the goal up, then raised it again, and then again.
In addition to the monetary donations, offers of assistance of all kinds came pouring in — from fixing the chimney on Lynde and D’Angelo’s home to cooking dinner to delivering, chopping, and stacking wood.
“The response was so profound,” Worden said. “It really was from everyone.”
A community around motorcycles
According to the GoFundMe page, Lynde, the longtime proprietor of a motorcycle garage on Flat Street, and D’Angelo were riding together on a motorcycle on Route 5 in Bellows Falls when “a truck pulled directly in front of them [...] and they took a direct hit.”
D’Angelo was taken to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., for treatment of broken ribs, a broken wrist, and a concussion, while Lynde was flown from the scene to Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center with an array of serious injuries including fractures to his left shoulder, hip, and pelvis, a broken right femur, two spinal fractures, and a weakened aorta.
Although the scale of the response has surpassed expectations, people who know Lynde and D’Angelo say they’re not surprised that the community is ready to help.
“The most incredible thing about what Stanley has built is the community around motorcycles and his friends group and his family that he’s built over the years,” said Josh Steele, proprietor of Vintage Steele on Canal Street, who says his own business building and repairing motorcycles owes a lot to the apprenticeship he served with Lynde.
“That’s the testament. That’s the shop that he’s built down there. He’s built a scene. He’s built a lifestyle,” Steele said. “It’s about motorcycling, friendship, faithfulness, loyalty.”
Chris John, Steele’s business partner, agreed.
“Everyone owes Stanley something,” he said. “If you’ve met Stanley, you owe him something. Because he’s gone out of his way for you at some point.”
For Steele, a moment like that came one night when he was headed back into town after an excursion on his own motorcycle. His chain snapped, flew forward, and smashed the primary — the lower part of the motor that houses the clutch — leaving his bike sputtering and dripping with oil.
“I rolled right into Stanley’s shop as he was closing up,” Steele said. “He kept the shop open for me for probably three more hours as we replaced a chain. And since it had smashed the primary, he actually took the time to clean the area and weld up a hole, and I was off and riding that night.”
‘He’s just that kind of guy’
John and Steele note that for those who ride motorcycles, there is a built-in camaraderie.
They talk about shared risk, about the aura around riding, and about the little things, like the way motorcyclists always acknowledge each other with a careful gesture — part wave, part salute — when they pass each other on the road.
But they are also adamant that, in the local community, Lynde has generated something that goes even deeper.
“If you ever see a group of people down on Flat Street gaggled around someone, it’s Stanley,” John said. “People literally flock to him. He’s just that kind of guy.”
“It’s not just the Harley bikers,” he said. “It’s young people, it’s old people, it’s men, it’s women, it’s doctors, lawyers, preachers, actors. Stanley is all-inclusive. It’s not a micro-community. It’s the entire community.”
Lynde Motorsports has become a kind of landmark in Brattleboro — a place where tough looking characters in bandanas and leather can often be seen hanging out under the tent at the green plastic picnic table out front, but also welcoming strangers, pumping up local kids’ bike tires, and, recently, venturing across the street to help the students at New England Youth Theatre with some extra muscle.
“A few weeks back we had to move the tent from one end of the place to the other,” said NEYT Creative Director Sandy Klein. “All the guys out in front of Stanley’s came wandering over and helped us lift and move the tent, and we gave them cake.”
When students at NEYT heard about the accident, Klein said, they were eager to help.
The theater’s mentor group of older students donated $200 from their treasury, and a group of younger students delivered paper flowers donated by Cultural Intrigue, another Flat Street business.
“The minute they heard Stanley and Laura had been hurt [the students] were just all completely, yes, we’re doing this,” Klein said. “And that’s partly because of how lovely they are as neighbors.”
‘Pray for him’
Lynde and D’Angelo met at the Brattleboro Food Co-op in 2007.
“He saw her in the parking lot and he was smitten right away,” Worden says. The two married in 2008. Over the years, D’Angelo has stepped in to help organize and run the shop.
Among other traditions they have created together are “Scone Sundays,” when their house is open to all comers for coffee and D’Angelo’s home-baked scones. They also have worked together to organize and promote Art On Wheels, the shop’s yearly August block party, bike show, and mini-street fair.
D’Angelo — an educator who teaches English to Chinese students and has taught French at Marlboro College — until recently was resting at home with support from a friend and riding buddy of hers and Lynde’s known as “Crude,” but she has now joined Worden at a hotel in Albany.
“Laura truly is one amazing woman,” Worden wrote Tuesday evening on the GoFundMe page. “Her wisdom, caring soul, and steadfast love for dad is incredible.”
Lynde is still at Albany Medical Center, where his close-knit family visits him daily.
“The doctors have been talking to us,” Worden said. “My sister, Lyle, can remember the medical terms, so she stands there with me. I understand all the procedures, but the medical terms, the medications — she’s got that all down.”
In sessions that are kept brief to avoid tiring him, Worden has been telling her father that D’Angelo is doing well and sharing stories about friends and updates about the GoFundMe campaign. And every day, she tells him not to worry.
“I know he can hear me,” she said. “But he can’t respond to say ‘How is Laura?’”
What else can the community do?
“Just pray for him,” his daughter said. “He needs it.”
Steele, who stressed the need for continued GoFundMe contributions, noted the lasting effects of an accident like this one.
“This is going to be the longest recovery process,” he said. “They need as much financial support as we can give them.”