‘I was once a kid’

New Mi­nas man spread­ing joy one bike at a time

Annapolis Valley Register - - EXTRAS - BY ASH­LEY THOMP­SON KINGSCOUNTYNEWS.CA NEW MI­NAS ath­omp­son@kingscountynews.ca

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

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