(Bob Greenlee, Staff)
"We gave out 30-something bikes that he brought to us last week. We gave them to the children yesterday at church," Dean Wallace, director of the Shining Light Outreach Center in Charleston, said Monday. "We feed the children every Sunday afternoon but that's the first time we've had bikes to give away. It was fantastic."
It was a first for Charleston but for Frank Riddick of Clinton, Ky., it was business as usual: he is starting his 16th year of giving away rebuilt used bikes.
"I give 500-600 bikes away each year," Riddick said. "I've been doing it so long now they call me 'the Bike Man.' My wife goes with me and they call her 'Mrs. Bike Man.'"
Riddick said it all started not too long after he quit farming in 1995 and sold off all but 100 acres which he kept to "tinker" with.
"I don't use the word 'retire' because I really didn't retire," he said.
But Riddick soon found tinkering with his remaining acreage wasn't what he really wanted to do.
"I didn't have a bike when I was a child," he said. "So I decided I wanted to give every kid in Clinton a bike who didn't have one."
Riddick started by buying 40 bikes and ended up giving away 55 to children in his town that first year.
"I thought that would be the end of it," he said.
But word got about about what he had done and he began to get suggestions on other places that could use bikes as well as what he needed to continue on.
"People learned what I do and I get used bikes from everywhere," Riddick said.
Used bikes are easy to find, he said, as they are usually thrown away when outgrown or broken.
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