You never forget your first bike.
“A red and white Huffy,” said Clark Evanitus, a Gung Ho Bikes employee and volunteer.
“Cruiser design, but the top tube kinda looked like a gas tank,” said Jim Seevers, a service manager for Gung Ho Bikes.
Five years ago, Gung Ho employees were gung-ho about giving everyone a ride of their own — even if they couldn’t afford it.
“Throwing away perfectly good bikes, it just goes against our grain,” said Jay Zech, the general manager of Gung Ho Bikes.
So, they started pedaling their plan to collect old, unwanted bikes.
“They roll in here twos and threes, people cleaning out their garage, their wives yelling at them, ‘get that out of the garage,'” Zech said.
This year, Gung Ho Bikes restored more than 140 bikes to their former glory.
“We make sure that the majority of stuff is working. Whatever is not working we try to get working and if we need to use parts, we’ll use parts from other bikes,” Evanitus said.
The laborers, who collect and accept bike donations year-round, aren’t paid.
“The rest of the guys came in at request. They all come in and help on this night,” Zech said.
They do it for the kids, for the memories yet to be made, and the charities like the Boys and Girls Club and YWCA who will pick up the bikes from the shop Friday morning.
“The charities we deal with — those people are amped when they come and are picking out bikes and stuff,” Zech said.
Although they’ll likely never meet the kids they’re helping in person, Gung Ho Bikes volunteers have a message for them and all bicycle lovers.
“Just be safe. Wear a helmet and just watch for cars,” Evanitus said.
“Most of all, take the bike and have fun. Ride it. You know, don’t lay it in the yard and forget about it,” Seevers said.