‘Mad About Bikes’ promises to bring smiles

Madison Community Foundation grant helps nonprofit toward goal of donating 1,000 refurbished bikes.

From the pages of In Business magazine.

“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike,” our 35th President John F. Kennedy once said. His sentiments were echoed by another cultural touchstone, John Lennon, who claims to have been so thrilled when he got his first bicycle as a boy that on that first night he took the bike to bed with him.

Seeing that kind of excitement on the faces of children is part of the motivation behind Free Bikes 4 Kidz Madison, an annual event to collect gently used bikes so they can be refurbished and distributed to area youth.

Free Bikes 4 Kidz is a nonprofit organization geared toward helping all kids ride into a happier, healthier childhood by providing bikes to those most in need. The public donates gently used bikes, the charity organizes hundreds of volunteers to clean and refurbish them, and then the bikes are given away to kids in need. Founded in Minneapolis, Madison is the fourth Free Bikes 4 Kidz location.

Free Bikes 4 Kidz is also the recipient of a “Mad About Bikes” grant from the Madison Community Foundation, the eighth of 12 major grants from the foundation’s 75th Anniversary Year of Giving. Madison Community Foundation awarded $25,000 to Free Bikes 4 Kidz Madison for the 1,000-bicycle giveaway and $59,200 to Wisconsin Bike Fed to fund new public fix-it stations, multiple bike repair internships for community youth, starter bicycles for beginning riders, and safety education and repair training for riders of all ages.

Free Bikes 4 Kidz held a bicycle collection event Jan. 13 at seven area SSM Health Dean Medical Group locations, taking in 830 bikes toward its goal of 1,000 to donate to area youth later this spring.

Volunteer cleaners, preppers, and mechanics will refurbish the bikes to make them safe and reliable, and then give them away through a network of area community organizations on Saturday, March 24.

“Free Bikes 4 Kidz believes that every kid that wants a bike can have a bike,” says FB4K Madison Executive Director Andy Quandt. “So many of us have bicycles in our garages collecting dust while others simply need a safe bike to ride. The FB4K program creates a workspace for community volunteers to come together to refurbish these bikes to give back to our kids a few months later. It all starts by collecting as many bikes as we possibly can in one location. It’s really amazing to watch how one dusty old bike, with a little bit of love, can easily turn into a smile and even change a life.”

Learn more about Free Bikes 4 Kidz at fb4kmadison.org.

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