Local organizers bring national bicycle non-profit to Morgantown

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A group of local residents is bringing national non-profit Free Bikes 4 Kids to Morgantown.

Local group president Jeremy Blizard said the group is working on bikes from two storage sheds, volunteer labor and a patchwork of delivery and pick up methods.

“We take bicycles from the community and refurbish and redistribute them in the community,” Blizard said.

He said they are starting slow, but they have a clear path for the future.

Board member Vaike Haas said it’s also a way to reuse and recycle so more people can get into the sport. The group is a member of the Youth Cycling Coalition and works with Animal Friends, St. Ursula’s Church and Christian Help to get repaired bikes into the hands of kids who need them.

“It’s about getting the bikes people are done with, like bikes that are sitting around in garages,” Hass said. “The ones that kids have outgrown and getting them out into the community where needed.”

The bicycle initiative will also keep kids active. According to Haas, 22% of children in the state are obese, 29 percent are food insecure or live in a home behind on rent.

“Childhood obesity, low income, not knowing how to ride a bike and the barrier of the cost of the bike. So we think Free Bikes 4 Kids will help local kids benefit from all the trail changes and the outdoor economy that’s in the works,” Haas said.

The National Interscholastic Cycling Association is active in Morgantown bike community and works with Haas and Blizard to find bikes, bikes that need to be repaired and kids who want them.

“They’re also a national group, but they’ve been active here for several years,” Haas said. “They just had their opening practice yesterday and they had 60 kids on the first day.”

Right now, the search is on for space to store and work on bicycles. Organizers are also looking for donations of bikes, money or even time to help the organization grow. Haas said they hope to repair and redistribute more than 70 bikes this year.

Residents that want to support the program should contact fb4kwv@gmail.com or P.O. Box 4073 Morgantown, West Virginia 26505.

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