Let's Go Places

Let's Go Places: - Bob's Free Bikes takes care of kids

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

On any given day of the year, you can find Bob Mandel playing Santa Claus. He started Bob's Free Bikes. The group gives away bicycles to children who would not otherwise have one. 

"It's the ticket to excitement. It's the ticket to happiness. It's the ticket to being cool," says Mandel, explaining why he chose to start this effort. "It's the ticket to being a kid."

Bob's Free Bikes works with schools, churches and organizations that help homeless families, refugees, foster kids and abused children to help them identify kids in need. Mandel and a group of volunteers accept nominations on the group's website. You can also contact them on via their Facebook page

The group buys and accepts donated bicycles. Volunteers fix the bikes that need any repairs, making sure they are in good, safe working condition.  

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Then they hand them out. "Bob's Free Bikes" provides bicycles to kids young enough to need training wheels all the way up to teenagers.

Mandel says the demand is high. "When I started this, I had a goal of 52 bikes the first year. I did that in week three. So I changed the goal to 365 the first year. I did that in month three."

As they approach their year anniversary, Bob's Free Bikes has given away nearly 1,000 bikes.

So the "Let's Go Places, Arizona" program decided to surprise and honor Bob's Free Bikes, presenting the group with a $1,000 check.  

"From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of all of my kids, thank you," said Mandel as he accepted the donation. "Thank you. It'll make a huge difference!" 

The Let's Go Places initiative is a partnership between Arizona's Family and Valley Toyota Dealers designed to recognize and reward people who are making a difference in the Valley.

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