PATTERSON, Calif. — Over in Patterson, if one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, then it’s likely because that unwanted item found its way to Vince Lopez.
Lopez is a coach for the Patterson High School mountain bike team and an avid bicyclist. Through July, he’s been using that background to fix unwanted bikes and give them away to children in his community. So far, he’s patched up a total of 74 items, which mostly consists of bikes, but also includes some scooters and skateboards.
“If I can put a smile on somebody’s face right now, that’s all that really matters,” Lopez said.
He spends nearly 20 hours a week changing tires, fixing and replacing brakes, oiling chains, and performing basic tune ups on bikes that people no longer want. He said this all started with an old bike given to him by a friend. The bike didn’t work like it used to, so Lopez fixed it up and offered it out on his social media page. When nobody was interested, he posted it on the Patterson Neighborhood Watch Uncensored Facebook page.
It was given away almost instantly, and from there, donations of old bikes started pouring in.
“All of a sudden within a couple of days, I was getting so many messages and so many bikes. It was absolutely incredible,” Lopez said. “People were just donating their old bikes that their kids had grown out of or had been sitting on the side of the yard for so long. And I’ve been fixing them.”
Photos: Patterson man fixes, gives away 74 bikes, scooters, skateboards for kids
Most of the bikes only need a couple of changes and a quick tune up, but he does get some bikes that are too far gone. With those, he parts them out and removes the pedals, seats, brake pads, and other varying parts that could be used for other bikes.
“As long as I keep getting bikes, I’ll keep doing it,” Lopez said. “You know, even if it slows and it comes down to do one bike a month, I’ll still do it.”
Not all the bikes he's given away were used or donated. He’s been given brand new bikes to give away and has even had someone buy a new bike for someone else.
One moment in particular that stands out to Lopez was when he was able to gift a donor $500 in cash, which the recipient said would help pay for his mother's medicine. Lopez learned that the man donated a 1987 BMX GT Performer, which would have sold for $2,600 in mint condition. Even though the bike was not in mint condition, he cleaned it up, sold it online for $700, and called the man back to give him some of the money.
“He was just blown away, couldn’t believe it. He’s like ‘You’re kidding me, and you’re going to give me money?’ And I said ‘Yeah’ and gave him $500 cash,” Lopez said, noting that the other $200 went to funding repairs on bike donations.
“I’m doing it for the kids in the community,” Lopez said. “I’ve got the time. I’ve got the ability to do this and there’s kids out there that need bikes and families out there that can’t afford to buy their kids a bike. I’m capable of doing my share.”
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