BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - If you know how to ride a bike, you probably remember the first time you got your own set of wheels.
The memories of learning to pedal, taking off the training wheels, and going faster than you probably should to keep up with your friends, are a rite of passage for many children. But for some children having their own bike is just a dream.
Chelsea resident Charlie Bradford wants to those dreams make come true. That’s why he started a non-profit called Bikes 4 Kids to refurbish donated bikes to give to children in need.
“A bike is something mobile, to keep them outside, keep them motivated keep them moving, give them their independence like we had as kids,” explains Bradford.
It all started when Bradford fixed a broken pedal on a bicycle for an 8 year old.
“I fixed a friend of mine’s kids bike pedal, I gave it back to him and he was devastated at first and it made his day,” says Bradford. “From there I thought I could do something.”
He teamed up with his childhood friend Zac Ingram, who owns Zipp Painting in Chelsea, to take it a step further, creating custom paint jobs to incorporate a child’s personality into the bike design. They have also modified bikes for children with special needs.
The goal at first was to give 10-12 children a bike this Christmas. Within weeks of launching their Facebook page on November 1st, they blew way past that goal. At least 100 bicycles are now set to be delivered this Christmas.
“He asked me if I wanted to get on board and help with the painting. We thought it would be 7-10 bikes but the list grew and now we are going to be bless a lot of kids,” says Ingram. “It’s been awesome it’s been a fun experience We’ve worked a lot of late nights on these things but we put a little bit of our heart in every one.”
Both men live a life of service, always trying to give back.
“Anything I can do for a kid fills me with joy. When I was a kid there were a lot of people that helped me out growing up and I just try to give back as much as I can to the community. It means a lot,” says Ingram.
The bicycles are all donated, and they use any funds donated for parts and paint. This Christmas they are also raising money to help three families in the community who are on hard times this year.
“These bikes are probably all they are going to get for Christmas if I don’t do a little more,” says Bradford.
They hope to continue this mission well beyond the holidays, and plan to give bicycles for birthdays as well.