Ice cream vendor on wheels garners worldwide attention

Jul 19, 2016

A roving local ice cream vendor who has a soft spot for kids has seen his pay-it-forward crusade go viral.

Credit Ice Creamcycle Dude

Since WBFO reported on July 13 on James Karagiannis’  plan to put frozen treats in the hands of inner-city kids, donations have been pouring in at a rate that has overwhelmed the Buffalo entrepreneur.

His story was picked up by ABC News and two United Kingdom newspapers. He’s received nearly $10,000 from donors.

“I honestly did not expect this to reach beyond my group of Facebook fans,” Karagiannis told WBFO. “It’s all really wild to me. It’s totally unexpected.”

Karagiannis, known as “The Ice Creamcycle Dude” and his eight-person team criss-cross the city on bicycles, hawking ice cream for a buck. He realized many half-pint customers had no money, but he refused to let them go without ice cream. He started giving away cones and bars. All kids had to do was answer a riddle or solve a simple math problem.

Example of the thank you letters written by kids. The letters are sent to donors.
Credit Ice Creamcycle Dude

His charitable tendencies began to drain his pockets, so Karagiannis created a pay-it-forward campaign, reaching out to his Facebook fans. He expected to raise a few hundred dollars, but quickly witnessed several thousands of dollars in donations pour in. Karagiannis decided to have kids write thank-you letters, which he mailed back to donors.

After all of the media attention, he has a surplus of donations and a limited ability to distribute so many frozen treats this season. As a result, Karagiannis hopes to get permission from local youth organizations to visit various sites and hand out his ice cream.give away all the ice cream.

“It might be difficult to find 10,000 kids who don’t have a dollar,” Karagiannis said.