A partnership between Henry Ford Health System and Free Bikes 4 Kidz paired more than 1,000 metro Detroit children with bicycles in 2018 and is back for a second year with the goal of sending 3,000 kids home with new sets of wheels – and big, happy smiles.
To reach that goal, used children's and adult bicycles are needed from metro Detroit residents.
Used bikes – new if you choose - can be donated at one of 22 Henry Ford Medical Centers across metro Detroit from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5. The collection centers, from Detroit and Livonia over to Grosse Pointe and Sterling Heights up to Plymouth and West Bloomfield and more than a dozen cities in between, will be staffed by Henry Ford employees, friends and family and span Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. Locations and other information can be found at www.henryford.com/bikes or http://fb4kdetroit.org/
“We know people everywhere have bicycles just sitting in their garages, bikes the kids have outgrown, bikes that may need repairs and are never ridden. Our hope is to give bikes like these new life and get kids riding. We want them to experience what we consider one of childhood’s greatest joys,” said Bob Barnes, a co-founder of the first Michigan chapter of Free Bikes 4 Kidz, which teamed up with Henry Ford Health System in 2018 for its first collection in October and distribution in December.
“Collection day is amazing …we love seeing the donated bikes accumulate at the medical centers over the course of the day, because we know all of those bikes will be taken back to our warehouse to be cleaned and repaired for a new child,” Barnes said. “Henry Ford employees are there donating their time. Donors are sharing stories about their bikes – where they came from, who rode them and other memories. And they are happy knowing that new memories will be made on that bike, rather than sitting unused, taking up space or being put in a landfill.”
Free Bikes 4 Kidz, a national nonprofit that Barnes and friends brought to Detroit last year, is re-use meets philanthropy with volunteers and donors being the wheels that make it all go, from staffing the collection sites and trucking the bikes to a warehouse to cleaning, repairing and preparing them to be given away – along with helmets.
Cleaning and repairs take place from October to December. They are distributed in December to children identified by metro Detroit community groups and nonprofits. The preps and distribution take place at a facility donated by The Platform in the New Center area in Detroit during the holidays.
Volunteer bicycle cleaners, mechanics and others are needed to get the bikes ready and give them away. Take a survey to determine which job is a fit - http://fb4kdetroit.org/volunteer/
Last year’s first distribution in Michigan was an emotional day for many parents, many of them with tears in their eyes watching children pick their bikes. For many kids it was their very first bike.
Paul Szilagyi, vice-president of Primary Care and Henry Ford Medical Centers, believes the mission is a match for Henry Ford, due to the community connections and support the collection and distribution creates and the healthy lifestyle and transportation options it fosters.
Henry Ford is also a sponsor of the MoGo bike sharing service.
“Bicycles should be a part of growing up for every child – and a part of all of our lives for that matter. Riding bikes keeps us active, healthy and strong,” Szilagyi said. “Riding a bike brings kids independence, builds confidence, offers a positive way to spend time and a practical means of transportation. Best of all bikes are just plain fun.
“It’s why the partnership with Free Bikes 4 Kidz is so special to us here at Henry Ford, and we hope the community we care for feels the same and brings out those bikes on Oct. 5.”
MEDIA CONTACT / Kim North Shine / 313-549-4994 / [email protected]