One of the great pleasures of childhood is learning how to ride a bike. For young children, having a bike provides freedom and independence while also giving them the chance to get outside and get some physical exercise. With the growing popularity of video games, it is more important than ever that children be given the opportunity to play outdoors. Unfortunately, though, for some families, buying a bike is too large of an expense, leaving many children unable to experience the joy of riding a bike for themselves.
Charity Bike Repair for All Children
An auto mechanic in Springfield, Massachusetts, has taken it upon himself to give bikes to as many needy children in his area as possible. After finishing work at his auto repair shop, Bob Charland devotes his evenings to repairing, assembling and adjusting bikes for underprivileged children. He does this through an initiative that he founded, called Pedal Thru Youth. He is currently in the process of turning Pedal Thru Youth into an official non-profit organization so that he can expand his reach to even more children from low-income families. Charland is doing all of this while battling a degenerative brain disease with which he was diagnosed this past spring.
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Despite his diagnosis, which would have signaled the end of days for many people, Charland is determined to live his remaining time to the fullest. He first discovered that he had a passion for helping children when he became a single father to his daughter, then 9 years old. He helped out with her Girl Scout troop and coached her softball teams. As she got older and moved on to other pursuits, Charland found that he still wanted to give back and help other children. Thus, Pedal Thru Youth began offering bike repair to the local community.
Support from the Local Community
In recognition of his efforts, many local businesses have furnished Charland with donations, including bike parts, children’s clothing, protective gear and more. He also partners with local schools to find out which children are most in need. Local law enforcement often gets in on the fun too, tagging along when Charland goes to surprise needy children with new bicycles. This way, they can give at-risk youth a more positive impression of the police, rather than only seeing them carting people off in handcuffs.
Charland’s friend and fellow auto mechanic, Al Tranghese, said of Charland, “His efforts are very inspirational to a lot of people. You really don’t realize it, that he’s sick.”
That is one of the most heartwarming aspects of this story. Even though he could just wallow in his diagnosis and just wait for his life to end, Charland refuses to let his disease get the better of him. He is a firm believer that his choice to live out the last of his days helping others is the best possible use of what little time he has left.
We could all take a page out of his book and see what more we could do to help those in need in our own communities.