President Cites the 'Bicycle Man' for Gifts to Children
Posted December 22, 2006 1:42 p.m. EST
Updated December 22, 2006 7:33 p.m. EST
As needy kids picked out new or newly refurbished bikes from among the hundreds that Mathis and his volunteers had collected and worked on for the 15th year in a row, he was given the President’s Call to Service Award certificate and a letter from President Bush.
The award recognizes a minimum of 4,000 hours of lifetime volunteer service. Mathis also got a Volunteer Service Award that recognizes giving 500 hours of time in one year.
“I got a whole lot of good stuff from the White House. I can’t describe how it felt. I know it felt good,” Mathis said after U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge delivered the awards from the president.
Of the 4,000-hour threshold, Etheridge said, “He has done more than that to be given the citation, but he’s changing lives.”
"We saw a need in our community to bring our community together," Mathis said in explaining why he became the "Bicycle Man" a decade and a half ago.
Cumberland County social service workers recommend children for the bike program. Some kids also get computers for which Mathis arranged.
The two-wheel wonder-worker will move to a new location on Russell Street for next Christmas. The property where he has been working has been sold to help fund development of Martin Luther King Park next door.