The program receives used donated bicycles, returns them to safe working order, then works to distribute them according to need in Grand Rapids and Kent County.
Rust said the need varies from someone who needs affordable transportation to and from work; a parent or guardian who cannot afford a bike for their child; or someone who doesn’t have a driver’s license.
“My cousin and I have been tossing around the idea of starting a non-profit like this for years,” said Rust. “After all the legal parameters were fulfilled, we formed a board of directors and since then, we’ve been collecting bikes, parts, tools, and donations of cash.”
The duo have also been collecting donations for their trek across the Great Lakes State, which will take them from Montague’s Meinert County Park on the shore of Lake Michigan, and ending 150 miles later at Bay City Recreation Area on the shore of Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay.
“It’s not going to be easy,” Stelma said. “In fact, it’s probably going to hurt a bit.”
Rust said he’s been training for the unsupported ride about three times a week. He said the ride will take about 9-12 hours.
“It’s been for two hours a piece on my trainer, since after dark is the only time I’ve had available,” he said. “One more long ride on the road between now and Saturday and I’ll be all set. Other than that, controlling my diet helps.
“A ride like this isn’t’ completely insane,” he added. “It’s done all the time for recreational purposes with several different events across the state. I’ve done the same course before, but that was six years ago. That said, it’s still a long way. We just found it to be a good way for us to put our legs and our lungs where our hearts are.”
Rust said anyone can donate to the cause, and a penny a mile will cost a $1.50.
“Unless we get lost, in which case it might be a $1.75,” Rust joked.
Donations for the “Freedom in Motion” bike ride can be sent to Rust via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at (616) 212-0605.