Terminally ill man donates repaired bikes to Springfield students

Many of these kids have never had a bike simply because their families can't afford one

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Two weeks ago, 22News introduced you to Bob Charland. Despite a terminal illness, the 44-year-old spends all day and night fixing up bikes for kids in need in the City of Springfield.

Many of these kids have never had a bike simply because their parents can’t afford one. On Thursday, Charland took us along for the ride to the William DeBerry School in Springfield, where he donated 35 finished bikes to students there. Little did he know, Springfield and State Police would show up to provide an escort.

From the minute Charland walked in the school and the kids saw the bikes, you could see just how much it meant to them. He said, “It’s really exciting to see all these kids so happy. Some of these kids have never had bikes in their life, so it’s amazing for me to do this for them.”

We’ve been covering Charland’s journey for weeks, and his story has been aired in Hawaii, Louisiana, Kentucky, Georgia, and all over the country. AAA saw our story and decided to sponsor Charland; they donated a helmet to every child on Thursday.

Bob has lived in Springfield since he was a teenager, and said his desire to give back to kids comes from his life as a mostly-single parent.  In fact, Bob was the first man to lead a Girl Scout Troop in Springfield in support of his daughter.  In addition to fixing up bikes, Bob also volunteers at the Willie Ross School for the Deaf, teaching them mechanical work. All this, on top of working his full time job as a mechanic at the Lyndale Garage in Springfield.

Although Bob said he had a minor setback this week.  He told 22News a group of kids cut open a fence at the Lyndale Garage where he works, and stole six bikes that were meant to be dropped off to students next week. So a reminder, if you need a bike, just ask.  Bob is happy to fix one up for you if you don’t have one.

There are several ways you can get involved to help Bob’s Bike Mission.  You can consider dropping off an old bike (or even a new one if you can’t rustle up a used one) to the Lyndale Garage on Warehouse Street in Springfield.

You can also consider donating to his GoFundMe Page, Pedal Thru Youth, to help him raise enough funds to buy parts for repairs.