Author C. S. Lewis once said, “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change your ending.” Pat Simmons of Dover would agree with Mr. Lewis because he experienced a change in life that put him on a new path.
“In 2015, I took a mission trip with my church to Nicaragua,” Simmons said. “I experienced what real poverty was like. When I returned, I was on fire to do something, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. God instilled in me that I should start a ministry that helped people with transportation. I had wanted to find something that combined my love of cycling with something that actually had purpose, and now I had found it.”
Bikes For Christ was started in March 2016, and the local nonprofit recently celebrated its fourth anniversary.
“Currently, we work with approximately 50 organizations in the Tampa Bay area that deal directly with clients in need,” Simmons said. “Case managers at these agencies vet out the clients and decide who a bicycle would be of great benefit. They then place a referral order with us and we deliver the bike to the agency to gift to the client. Our main focus is underprivileged children, veterans who are trying to re-establish themselves and anyone that is in need and trying to overcome their current situation. And, of course, with every bike we give out, we also give a Gospel of John or some other scriptural text, because we want that individual to develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Simmons and his team have another reason to celebrate other than its fourth anniversary: Bikes For Christ recently won WEDU’s Be More Empowered Award.
“It was totally unexpected to win the WEDU Be More Empowered Award,” Simmons said. “In fact, it was our second win in just over a month, having just won the ‘Small Business of the Year’ award with the Valrico FishHawk Chamber. Winning both was incredibly overwhelming. The Be More Empowered Award itself goes to the small nonprofit making the biggest impact here in the Tampa Bay area, so that really means a lot, especially with the other worthy organizations we were competing against.”
If you would like to learn more about Bikes For Christ, you can visit its website at www.bikes4christ.com or contact Simmons at 533-9177.