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Meet Mr. Bill, The Bike Man
"I got a bike when I was four years old - little bitty one. Was riding it and then for my sixth birthday, my dad gave me a 26-inch bike. I bet I put a hundred-thousand miles on that bike."
With that many miles on his prized bike, Bill Brantley quickly learned that bikes break down and it's a wise thing to know how to fix it yourself. "I started tinkering on them and trying to learn how to fix flats, which was a common thing on them. And, finally, learned to take them apart; get the bearings that had worn out and whatever else needed to be repaired on them."
That's how Mr. Bill's tinkering began. It wasn't long before he began fixing bikes for anyone who needed a hand.
It was eight years ago that he found yet another purpose for his handiwork.
His church, Gateway Church of Christ, does homeless ministry every third Saturday. On one occasion, he took two bicycles thinking someone might be able to use them.
Rev. Jeremy Kughn says that launched Mr. Bill's personal ministry; "He's a legend around our church. He was known in the others days, old days, for his basketball prowess; but since then, he's taken to redoing bicycles for those who are in need."
“I got the name of ‘The Bike Man.’ So, all of the homeless around now, they say, ‘I need to check with The Bike Man and see if he's got a bike for me.’” Mr. Bill said.
At 87 years young, Mr. Bill gets consumed by his mission and will spend hours on end in the garage. His wife, Patsy, always knows where to find him.
"My wife has to holler, ‘Supper's ready. You gonna come in?’ ‘Yeah, I'll be there in about 20 minutes’ About an hour later, I show up for supper,” he said.
His church members help keep him busy by donating bicycles for him to remake for the homeless. Mr. Bill says he wishes he could get even more so he could make sure that everybody who needs them would have a set of wheels. Many recipients tell him it's a new beginning for them.
“I would imagine every time he fixes up one of these bikes and watches it roll off, it brings joy to his heart,” said Rev. Kughn.
That, and the words of thanks, Mr. Bill hears often, "'Boy, I can get back and forth to my work every day, I sure do appreciate that bike.’ Boy, that just makes me melt. Yep, sure does feel good."
Angels In Our Midst is sponsored by Anderson Subaru.