By Amanda Boston
With its clever catchphrase, ‘Helps with Transportation on the Road to Salvation,’ the nonprofit organization Bikes For Christ puts bikes and Bibles into the hands of those less fortunate. In March 2016, local resident Patrick (Pat) Simmons coupled his love for Christ with his passion for cycling to start up the organization.
Simmons explained, “I saw a need for transportation within the homeless communities, especially for the ones who are trying to better themselves and get their lives back on track. They needed transportation to get to a job or a doctor.”
The organization not only provides bikes to the homeless but also to veterans and underprivileged children. It accepts donated bicycles from Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk and Pasco Counties and then redistributes them through several different agencies. Bikes For Christ collaborates with Tampa Homeless Outreach, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Amazing Love Ministries, ECHO, A Kid’s Place, Family Promise, Women’s Resource Center and more.
“The bicycles are just a segue to our real purpose, which is getting the word of God into these people’s hands. We plant the seed, and hopefully, they continue to grow in Christ,” remarked Simmons.
Last December, Simmons teamed up with David Burtt, another avid cyclist with a heart to share the gospel. At the time, Burtt, who is the music minister at First Baptist Dover, was also seeking to start a bicycle ministry. In fact, Burtt was in the process of converting a back room of the church into a bike repair shop.
With nearly 85% of the donated bicycles requiring maintenance, Simmons asserts that their partnership is more than happenstance. “David joining with Bikes For Christ has been a blessing, and the opening of the bicycle repair shop has been an even greater dream come true,” he said.
Bikes For Christ is always accepting road worthy bikes, but it also relies on monetary donations to purchase bike parts and Bibles. On Friday, October 20 and Saturday, October 21, Bikes For Christ will hold a fundraising event at Keith’s Oaks Bar and Grill in Brandon from 6 to 10 p.m.
The entertainment will include live music, raffles, prizes, items for auction and a vendor fair in the courtyard. Friday night’s entertainment will feature the Eddie Wright Band, Pat Simmons and other musical guests. Saturday night’s entertainment will include musical guests and Karaoke. All proceeds from the event go to Bikes For Christ.
For more information, visit www.Bikes4Christ.com or call 533-9177. To donate a bike, you can drop it off at University Bicycle Center, located at 1220 E. Fletcher Ave. in Tampa. To make a monetary donation, visit its website and click donate.