‘I was once a kid’
New Minas man spreading joy one bike at a time
John Murphy is one of the good ones.
The New Minas resident is in his third year of refurbishing and re-homing bicycles that are no longer being used by the original owners.
“It’s called purpose. It’s giving back when you’re not being asked to because the opportunity is there,” said Murphy, who likes to give the bikes to children who would otherwise go without.
“I never had children, so I never got a chance to do that with my own… maybe that’s my way of paying back.”
Murphy asks for nothing in return for the hours he puts into fixing the donated bikes, but that doesn’t mean there’s no incentive. He admits he still tears up every time a child is thrilled to receive a bicycle.
“The smile is all I see – and that’s all I need,” he said, adding that it can be a lifechanging moment for some children.
“Doors have opened and lights have come on that he’s never seen before. That’s what it’s about.”
The first five bikes were delivered to the Somerset and District Elementary School. In the early days, Murphy had some help from his brotherin-law, Perry Boudreau, and his support network has continued to grow from there.
A 37-year Michelin employee, Murphy’s good deeds captured the attention of the company’s plant manager in Waterville, Marcel Leclerc. Leclerc presented Murphy with an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“He said… ‘for every two bikes you rebuild, I will buy you a brand new bike’,” recalled Murphy, who often has help from fellow Michelin employees.
Murphy’s team rebuilt 26 bikes within the last year, and Michelin donated 15 bicycles purchased from Valley Stove & Cycle in Kentville.
“We gave 40 bicycles out to kids that never had a bicycle before and had no means of (getting) a bicycle,” said Murphy, who added that this is one of the many caring initiatives that has received support from Michelin’s Purpose program.
The 41st bicycle, a bike best suited for an adult, was given to a well-known Michelin employee who faithfully rides a bike to work whenever possible.
“It might as well be a Mercedes Benz,” said Murphy, reflecting on his co-worker’s reaction to the new bicycle.
“He said, ‘I promise I won’t drive it in the salt.’”
Murphy would like to see the bike restoration and donation efforts evolving into a program that is handled by a committee capable of keeping it going year after year.
Point blank, Murphy said he finds motivation to continue volunteering for this cause in the firm belief that every child should have the option of owning a bicycle.
“I was once a kid.”
— John Murphy