Man gives gently-used bicycles new purpose
By Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor, Editor, [email protected]
For years, Rusty Sizemore has collected gently-used bicycles to repair and then distribute at Christmastime to local children.
However, this past holiday season, the former Lanesville marshal felt called to do something a little different.
“I told (my wife) Vick we needed to donate them to tornado victims,” Sizemore said.
Going into the project with just three bicycles, the couple took to social media to put out the word of their plan.
“They started coming out of the woodwork as they found out what I was doing,” Sizemore said of donations. “It’s escalated from there.”
Not all donations have been used bicycles. Sizemore received five new bikes that were purchased after the donor learned that two used ones waiting to be picked up by Sizemore were stolen.
“I guess someone needed them more than me,” Sizemore said of the ones that were taken.
Sizemore took his first load of the two-wheelers to the campground at Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park near Dawson Springs, Ky., one of the areas hit hard early last month by tornadoes.
“The people there were tickled to death to get the bikes,” Sizemore said.
In most cases, the residents there don’t have transportation as their vehicles were destroyed during the storm.
Sizemore called the devastation “heartbreaking.”
“You just have to see it to believe it,” he said.
A second load of bicycles was taken to Benton, Ky., which is located about eight miles from Mayfield, another community that suffered severe damage.
“The adults have been as appreciative as the kids,” Sizemore said of the recipients.
To date, Sizemore has delivered 66 bicycles, using his own vehicle and trailer to make the haul.
“I’ve dealt with the sheriff’s departments and EMS there,” Sizemore said. “They told me nobody had donated bicycles.”
Bikes of all sizes — “from little bitty push trikes all the way up to adult ones,” Sizemore said — have been donated.
Repair work has included replacing inner tubes and tires or providing a seat to a bicycle that was missing one. Most of the used bikes were ones that had been outgrown or no longer ridden by their owners.
“Some were very vintage that were in excellent condition,” Sizemore noted.
Some monetary donations have helped with the project. Sizemore said a $50 contribution helped pay for gas for a trip.
“The response I get is pay enough,” he said.
Currently, Sizemore doesn’t have plans for another delivery.
“I would love to continue this, but it’s on hold right now,” he said. “I need to find a place to store the bikes.”
Sizemore said he can’t thank the people who have assisted him enough for what they’ve done.
“This has been an excellent idea,” he said.
Anyone interested in making a donation is welcome to call Sizemore at 812-989-6725.