MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Biking is an excellent way to get moving and get healthy. Just ask Fany Avila, a cycling enthusiast who not only enjoys riding bikes to stay active and healthy, but she also works as a volunteer to make sure that those in need can also discover the benefits of having a bike.
“I can’t run because it hurts my knees because I played softball for 20 years, so I started riding and I fell in love with the sport,” Fany explained. “And now I ride like a crazy person because I ride 20 to 30 miles a day, if I can, as much as I can put miles on my bike I will.”
Fany’s passion for biking took her to Recyclable Bicycle Exchange (RBX) a non-profit organization in Fort Lauderdale that works with volunteers to fix donated bicycles and distribute them to people who can’t afford them. She says doing this type of work has many rewards.
“I met this gentleman down in Miami, it’s just random, he came up to me because I was wearing the shirt, and he told me he got a bicycle from us, him and his wife got a bicycle from us. His wife was in good shape, he wasn’t,” Fany explained. “So he started riding bicycles so much that now she doesn’t want to ride it because she’s embarrassed, she’s like ‘No I don’t want to ride with you’ because he lost like 20 pounds, it might not sound like a lot but in his life, it meant the world. And he feels so much better, healthier.”
Jeff Torkelson, founder of RBX explains how the organization is made up of all volunteers, including himself, who come to the RBX warehouse on Thursday nights and Saturdays mornings to help in any way they can. They collect old bikes, fix them up and give them back to people who need them. They began donating the bikes to children and teens locally and have branched out to adults as well.
Fany and Jeff make a living working for AvMed Rides, a bicycle sharing program that services 275 bicycles at 22 stations in six cities in Broward County. Through their work, they’re able to make more bicycles accessible to Broward residents who need to rent a bicycle for a fun ride or to run an errand.
All types of people have benefited from the RBX bikes. “We have all kinds of situations. We have single mothers; we have parents who have no way to get to work. And we have children, lots of children, most of it is children,” said Fany. “They have to come to the place so we can measure them. The bicycle and we have to measure the helmets. We have to give them a helmet to make sure they’re safe out there and they don’t get the bike right away.”
What does Fany like the most about what she does at RBX? “The smiles, the endless smiles that you see on these children and mothers and fathers when they get their bicycle, yeah, that is priceless,” she said with joy in her voice. “It’s giving me goosebumps. That is pretty much what we get out of it, the joy of knowing we are helping others.”
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