BIKES FOR NEEDY KIDS
Have you ever seen a bicycle sitting on the curb waiting for the garbage truck, or those “scrappers” with a truck full of metal and a bunch of bikes in the mix? What about bikes thrown in a land fill or melted down for metal? Could there be a better way? Do we have people of need right here in our community? Have Children not yet had the opportunity to feel the joy or the freedom of riding a bike? What about people that cannot afford other forms of transportation?
Wayne Mikes, of Mikes Bike Shop in Palatine, conceived a solution during a conversation…..
It was a conversation between Wayne and a Mikes Bike Shop customer wondering what to do with a few bikes his children had outgrown that prompted Wayne to develop a bike donation program. Since its inception, in 1999, Mikes Bike Shop has donated over 2400 bikes. The concept is simple: accept donations of unwanted bicycles; clean, repair, and refurbish them; then find the bikes a new welcoming home at Christmas time. Finding the right recipients led Wayne on an amazing journey.
Mikes Bike Shop strives to place donated bicycles into the hearts and hands of needy children. We want them to share in the excitement of riding bikes that we knew as kids (…and still recognize as adults), having a bit of freedom to go see friends and learn some independence in a responsible way.
On this journey, Wayne also discovered people were willing to donate under-used bicycles. So, Mikes Bike Shop found social workers and a lot of caring organizations (…a few of them listed below) that helped to identify adults who had the need for basic transportation.
Over the years there have been some wonderful stories. For example, the other year when we were delivering a bike to a young girl, we noticed her little sister was crying. The two girls and their mom did not speak any English, so it was difficult to discern what the problem was. Nevertheless, we sensed that the little sister also wanted her own bike. So, Wayne when back to the store to get the right size bike for the little sister. But, when we gave her the bike she heartbreakingly continued to cry. Finally he learned the earth shaking issue – she wanted a bike basket like her older sister. So, he hurried back to pick up a basket and then turned back around and installed it on the bike for her. Problem solved, and both sisters were elated!
Another story involved a group of adults who contacted Wayne to start a bike club for the disadvantaged. Wayne and Mikes Bike Shop were happy to provide 15 bikes to this group for the well-deserved purpose of further sense of community in both these adults and kids. Wayne taught a class for all of them on general cycling safety, how to ride in traffic, leading group rides and demonstrating basic bicycle maintenance.
In addition to many generous individuals, Mikes Bike Shop has also had the pleasure of working alongside some truly wonderful organizations. These partners not only identified needy recipients, but also assisted with donations and pick-ups. A few of these organizations include:
VFW Post 5151
St. Teresa School/Church
Boy Scouts of America
St. Vincent DePaul Chicago
Mission to Mongolia (Rev Shoky)
Bikes to Africa
Palatine Opportunity Center (POC)
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church
This bike donation program that Wayne started back in 1999 continues its tradition to reflect the true spirit of Christmas.