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Saskatoon man heading program giving bicycles to those in need

Saskatoon man providing joy to kids one bike at a time
WATCH: Saskatoon resident Marv Friesen is fixing and refurbishing bikes for kids in need in Saskatoon as part of Rides by Marv's.

For the past month, Marv Friesen has been fixing up bicycles and distributing them to youth programs and underprivileged kids in Saskatoon.

Those close to Friesen know he loves cars, fixing them, building them and showing them off at the annual Show and Shine in downtown Saskatoon. Mustangs are his favourite.

But for the past five months, he has been turning his attention to bicycles, which has been an easy transition.

Friesen is involved with the organization Care and Share. They along with Rock 102 host a yearly bike campaign  that gives up to 300 kids per year new bikes.

Read more: Hamilton, Ont., bike-share program relaunched after technical delays

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they had to scrap those plans this year.

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Disappointed by the news, Friesen decided to take it upon himself, with some help from Care and Share, to distribute some free bicycles as part of Rides by Marv’s.

“We reached out to the public to get some bikes, to get some used bikes,” said Friesen

“Some people were nice enough to donate new bikes. We were still able to put together a hundred bikes to give them to underprivileged kids in the city.”

Friesen says one of his friends provided some funds for spare parts as lots of donated bikes were in really rough shape.

He along with a handful of his friends have helped organize and set up bicycle drop off days with schools and youth programs.

“It’s really just about getting a kid a bike.”

“I’ve worked with kids for over 30 years. You work with kids and you see that something so little is so huge to someone. It’s just awesome.”

A thank you letter from a health-care worker in the community.
A thank you letter from a health-care worker in the community. Brady Ratzlaff/ Global News

That is exactly the case for six-year-old Octavious Bramall, who received a bicycle from the program. He has been riding it none stop in the nice weather. His dad thinks every kid should have a bike; it gives them something do to all the time.

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“It’s kind of nice to see kids get another sense of freedom,” said Orion Bramall. “Be able to go out and hang out on bikes instead of doing the alternative.”

When asked if Octavious loved his bike, his response was short and simple, “Oh yeah.”

Read more: City officials release broad plan for expanding Edmonton’s bike lane system

Friesen was able to connect with Doug’s Spoke ‘N Sport to set up an arrangement for parts when needed.

Because of COVID-19, the supply chain for bike parts has been hit hard, resulting in it being difficult to find a bike that fits a person’s need or price range and long delays for items coming in.

“This has been a really tough year for bikes,” said salesperson Teal Krueger. “Something that provides bikes for people who otherwise wouldn’t have the means of even if they have the means to buy an entry-level bike but can’t find them it’s pretty awesome.”

Read more: COMMENTARY: The pandemic has more people riding bikes — here’s how to keep it that way

He says a lot of the programs in the city that provide are not operating at full capacity as well, meaning finding the perfect bike is proving to be very difficult at this time.

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Word about what Friesen is doing with his time these days has been spreading to his friend across the country too.

Some of them have started their own version of the bike program.

“For Marv to give up his free time to do something like this for free is really commendable,” said friend Brian Durston in Salmon Arm B.C.

Durston has known Friesen for three decades and says after hearing what Marv was doing, it was an easy decision to get involved.

Read more: Calgary police partner with Bike Index to help return stolen items to owners

He says he knows people in Vancouver that he will pitch the idea too, to see if they want to join.

As well as in Mexico, where he visits often.

Friesen wants to take the knowledge he has of fixing bicycles and give that back to the kids as part of the program in the coming years.

“So… I’ll show them how to fix their own bike too,” Friesen said.

“There will be a phone number they can call. If they need a bike, we will get them a bike too. If we can get them fixing their own bikes that will keep (the program) going.”

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Saskatoon girl with spina bifida upset over stolen customized bikes
Saskatoon girl with spina bifida upset over stolen customized bikes

He says he wants their bikes to last a long and to have the necessary tools to fix a chain if it falls off or breaks for example.

Friesen says he was aiming for between 60 to 100 bikes. At this point, he has distributed 102. There have been a couple batches show up recently, but those should be all complete within the coming weeks.

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