Tribute: Mike McMillion
This month we want to take a moment to honor a legend. Mike McMillion worked for Bikes for the World (2007-2011) and if anyone ever visited King Farm during that time you probably know Mike. Mike ran the Rockville Youth Bike Project which really cemented our place in the bike community in Montgomery County.
Mike ran the TERRIFIC bike program in Rockville which donates bikes to kids (now handled by Rockville Bike Hub), but that was just a small part of what he did for Rockville. Mike was instrumental in setting up a bike repair program to teach kids how to repair bikes. He started our SSL hours program and kept extensive notes on the students, leaving a wealth of information that helped form our volunteer program that still exists today. He really had a way of breaking down a bike, figuratively and literally, to help kids truly understand how they work and how they can work on bikes.
Mike worked closely with then Parks Superintendent Betsy Thompson who remembers Mike fondly, "what a great guy and a true believer in bikes as a way of life." Mike established and ran the bike and pedestrian safety program in Rockville Elementary Schools. He introduced kids to bikes, taught them how to make smart choices on the roads, and even took them out on community rides around King Farm. "His idiosyncratic energy made the whole mix work, for kids and for an incipient Bikes for the World," Keith Oberg, BfW founder and friend of Mike.
Betsy got it right, Mike was all about bikes as a key to life: health, happiness, and community. From Rockville to Pulaski Mike has always been known as the "Bike Guy". Mike left Bikes for the World and Maryland after he got married and moved to Pulaski Virginia where we started Pulaski Bikes. Again, Mike proved that it wasn't just about selling and fixing bikes. He created a community everywhere he went. He spent his time in Virginia creating life long cyclists. He helped build the trails in the community and put the community on the trails.
One thing I remember most about Mike is his love of bikes, his willingness to help, and that magnetic smile. Okay, three things. But it all comes down to bikes. It's interesting to think about how Mike always signed his name, Mike Mc$$$ because his life wasn't centered around money. He drew his wealth from happiness and happiness was on a bike. Although if a customer questioned the price of a bike, Mike was always ready with a comeback, " You can't buy happiness-but you can buy a bike...and that's pretty close."
Another customer summed Mike up in one simple review, " Mike was patient and educated my kids on what he was doing, why he was doing it, what the parts were called and so much more!" He cared about putting you on a bike that you were going to love. He loved showing kids and adults the fun you could have on two wheels, whether that was on a mountain bike trail or riding on a city road. And by sharing what he knew on the mechanic side, he empowered us all take better care of our bikes.
We lost Mike unexpectedly last month to a heart attack. Way too soon. We remember Mike for the advocacy, the dedication, and the friendship. Tailwinds my friend.