3 minutes reading time (599 words)

Featured Volunteer: Alex Obriecht

Alex Obriecht is the owner of Race Pace Bicycles which just opened its seventh store this past year. All locations serve as drop off points for Bikes for the World.Actually Keith and Alex have been working together even longer than we've been known as Bikes for the World.

Part of the success of our relationship extends well beyond Alex. In each store, there is an employee who champions Bikes for the World...in fact it's probably several.

The Race Pace family is an extension of the BfW family and it shows in their presentation of our program. They know what we do, they follow our progress, and they share that information to donors who drop in their store to donate bikes.

And they don't just talk a good game. In 2013 Norman Jacobs, a part time employee at the Columbia location, bought a dozen brand new Kona bikes to donate to our program in Uganda.

Kevin Dolan, store manager at the time, has been supporting us since the very beginning and he's been moving around to the new locations as they open. We can tell he's taking our message with him.

Jon Posner used to work at the Ellicott City location. He LOVES BfW. He even took the collection 'on the road' setting up at the Howard County Green Festival every year. Collecting bikes, mentoring volunteers, and spreading the good work of BfW.

It's so important to us to have these partnerships not only in the community but also in the bike industry. Working with bike shops allows us to increase the availability our donors have for a convenient drop off location. It saves us time to do bulk pick ups...some Race Pace Bicycle locations can hold 30 or more bikes at one time.

And it gets riders on better bikes! Often times we wind up with a donated bike because someone has upgraded or decided to buy a new bike rather than repair the old one. And Race Pace Bicycles serves the biking community unlike any other. These guys ride, they know bikes, and they know how to communicate with any type of rider. Their shops are welcoming to any level of cyclist and so is their staff. They were catering to the female cyclist before that was chic.

Alex has built an incredible bike business. They have connected to the community they serve and they continue to listen to their wants and needs and they deliver. It is this commitment that has carried them through rocky times that wiped out many other local (and bigger chain) stores.

They never once turned their back on our mission and continue to help deliver quality used bicycles to our partners overseas. Every year they get more and more bikes and Race Pace has been backing that financially as well. They feel so strongly about what we do and what it takes to achieve our goals that they see to it that we meet our $10/bike donation goal.

Race Pace has also been the drive-chain making possible our donations to the Baltimore Christmas Bike Project over the past decade. Donating bikes back to the community has been the mission of our partner in Columbia, St John's United Methodist-Presbyterian Church and St John the Evangelist Catholic Church. The hardest part of a donation like this is our bikes come to us in need of repairs. Race Pace hopped in with a solution and has been making those repairs AND finding bikes for the kids in this project. More than 150 bikes since the beginning. Kudos and thanks to Alex and the entire Race Pace family.

Featured Volunteer: Mike Johnston
Featured Volunteer: Ron Watts