Red was Chris Rice’s color, and mountain biking undeniably had been one of his favorite pastimes, something his younger brother, Benjamin, hasn’t forgotten since his brother was killed in an ATV accident two years ago.
Those who worked with the 29-year-old Rice at Deckers Outdoor Corp. in Goleta also have vowed not to forget by working with the now 14-year-old Benjamin to design a mountain biking shoe in their co-worker’s memory.
Rice, a North Dakota native, was killed in an ATV accident in December 2011 in the Mojave Desert near the border of San Bernardino and Kern counties, along with fellow Santa Barbaran Dan Carbonaro, 27.
All proceeds from the sale of the $110 red shoes, available only online, will go to local high-schoolers participating in the Santa Barbara Mountain Bike Team via the National Interscholastic Cycling Association.
“We wanted to do something special in his memory,” Teva spokeswoman Jaime Eschette said. “Chris had loved anything on two wheels. Chris was really involved with the local bike community. We’re hoping to spread the word about the project in a thoughtful way.”
Eschette said the idea unofficially came out of the memorial service Deckers held for Rice after the 2011 holidays.
Rice had been a well-loved employee, who started at Deckers as an intern in the Simple brand and then worked his way up into Teva.
Teva extended an invitation to Rice’s brother Benjamin so that family could be involved in the design process.
Gretchen Bertsch, Rice’s mother who lives in North Dakota, said it especially meant a lot to Benjamin, who was doted on as Rice’s much-younger sibling.
“It was tough on all of us, especially Benjamin,” Bertsch told Noozhawk. “They were very close brothers in spite of the age difference.
“It really meant a lot to us. It seems like people forget about people who die. I just thought it was very kind of them to do that. He liked the people there.”
Bertsch said Rice had always enjoyed biking and couldn’t believe his luck when he landed his dream job at Deckers after spending time working at Velo Pro Cyclery in Santa Barbara.
“I’m going to be buying a pair of shoes in a few days,” Bertsch said. “I would say we’ll have a lot of those shoes around here. He loved what he did. I’m happy about that.”