3 minutes reading time (652 words)

First Place in the 5k Race: Rotary Club of Carroll Creek

Participating in a 5k, whether you walk or run, is how many people support charities and causes all over the world.  On average, it takes about 35 minutes or an hour to complete. Imagine if it took 14 years! 

That's exactly how long it took the Rotary Club of Carroll Creek to win the race to 5,000 bikes. See when we say 5k, you think feet and measure it in kilometers or miles. But to the Rotary Club of Carroll Creek, when we say 5k, they think feat and measure it in bikes and smiles. As in, completing this 5k, after 14 years is quite a feat!

Think about it, even if the Rotarians collected 350 bikes every year, they still wouldn't hit 5,000 this quick. Now think about this, the above average bike collection brings in around 100 bikes, not 200 or even 300. And to be completely honest the Rotary Club of Carroll Creek (RCCC) did have a couple average years. Looking back to when they first partnered with Bikes for the World in 2006, there were actually two years when their collection fell below 100 bikes. But only two and just under.

When Zoltan Nagy started this effort he came out running. He immediately generated excitement for our program not only within the club but within the community of Frederick. That first year they collected 135 bikes...in the pouring rain. By the time they passed the handlebars to Rotarians Dick Foot (2013) and Norm Birzer (2017), who currently heads this effort, RCCC had already surpassed 1,000 bikes. In the last seven years, they added 4,000 more.

 What changed? They started collecting bikes year round. They secured a storage facility that held hundreds of bikes. They connected to even more members of the community and recruited businesses, schools, police departments, bike shops, and recycling centers to help them collect bikes. They began covering other events in the area also collecting bikes, in Frederick, Boonsboro, Jefferson, Smithsburg, New Market... They worked on two Eagle Projects. They gave presentations, were interviewed on the radio. Basically they became Bikes for the World Frederick.

They have also participated in a loading and regularly supply bikes to our warehouse year round. They work through any type of weather, taking every type of bike. And when we need bikes for our shipments, especially in the winter when our collections are leaner, they come through to help fill our containers. This crew has become invaluable to us and especially our partners around the world.

Early on Zoltan partnered with Frederick Community College, and more specifically Shane Sellers, who is a professor at the college. Shane has been part of this effort for over 10 years, donating over 200 bikes to the program. That may seem like a drop in the bucket, but considering he's just a guy in a pick-up it's huge. Oh, and without him, RCCC would still be racing to the finish line to reach that 5k.

I really identify with the mission of trying to provide sustainable transportation options for people in need. This may be the difference for someone getting to school, work, or medical care and that is something that is many times taken for granted by people with cars.

Shane Sellers, Frederick Community College professor

That really puts it in perspective right? Here, a bike is often viewed as a toy. Something we use for recreation or sport. It also often ends up collecting dust and taking up space when we move on to another hobby. The members of RCCC recognize the value this 'toy' brings to remote villages around the world and the impact it can bring to a community. A bike is not a toy it's a tool that can transform a life. Bringing together a community to lend a hand to another community half a world away is what Rotarians do best, and it's what makes RCCC so important to our mission. 

Banana Bike!??