Rides by Marv’s has evolved through the years.
The 2022 edition of the initiative is no different.
Its founder Marv Friesen is once again taking in used or broken bikes via donations from the community, then using his knack for fixing them, whether it be classic Mustangs’ engines or greasing bike chains. He then distributes them to those who need them most in Saskatoon free of charge.
Friesen says so far, he has 175 to 195 bikes in his backyard, many of which were left over from last year.
“It breaks my heart when you see a family who can’t afford bikes for their family. That’s why this program is growing so much,” said Friesen.
This year he extended his reach to helping out Ukrainian families who have recently moved to Canada — families that have experienced a lot, in many cases leaving their home country with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
Families such as the Onyshko family. Their two twin boys, Garis and Andrii, aged nine, along with mom Irina and dad Yurii, moved to Saskatoon roughly two weeks ago. Their boys were given new bikes and helmets through Friesen’s program.
“People are a very big help in Canada. We are very happy about the bikes. Our other bikes were left in Ukraine,” Irina said.
“We want to thank Marv, Bubba’s closet (another program in Saskatoon), and all the people in Saskatoon,” said Andrii.
Friesen is also providing bike locks and helmets.
He says he distributed more than 200 bikes in 2021. This year he has expanded to Regina with the help of some friends looking to bring the program to kids and families in need in the Queen City.
The program could very well expand to other areas across Saskatchewan, too, down the road.
Regina MLA for Coronation Park Mark Dockerty, a friend of Friesen’s, says they had to get on board with the program and bring it to Regina.
“This is certainly worth expanding to other parts of the province because everyone needs a bike. We are happy to be a part of that in Regina,” Dockerty said.
Ukrainian Canadian Congress volunteer Morris Penteluk says the work Friesen is doing is nothing short of amazing.
“They’re just so happy to have a bike, even the adults with adult bikes. This is just wonderful the work Marv is doing,” said Penteluk.
Friesen adds that every child — every person, for that matter — deserves a bike.
“Kids need to have something like a bike. It’s good for exercise, good for mental health and it’s fun. It’s freedom, that every kid needs,” Friesen told Global News.
Friesen says he is once again teaming up with Rock 102 and will be visiting Indigenous communities this summer, in addition to local organizations and groups, providing smiles and bikes for kids and families alike.
“No one should have to go without a bike.”