By Bill Donovan/The Independent/7/9/18

GALLUP — The “Fix Bikes for Kids” program is alive and well in Gallup this summer.

As kids get out of school and seek ways to get from here to there, the program has been helping area kids by fixing up old bikes and making them usable again.

So far this summer, five bicycles have been refurbished with plans on repairing 30 more in the next month or so to be used by kids from five to 14 who have signed up for the program this summer.

Put on by the Gallup Boys and Girls Club and sponsored in part by the Rehoboth McKinley Christian Health Care Services, the program has been praised for helping to promote a healthy exercise regiment for youth who “live in an area where diabetes is very common.”

“RMCHCS strongly supports recreational programs such as biking along Gallup’s many hilly trails and believe in the goals set by the Boys and Girls Club of companionship, volunteering and healthy lifestyles,” said David Conejo, CEO of the health age agency.

He said the program came about through the efforts of several people who realized the importance of bikes for a healthy lifestyle It could be said to have begun with Jonathan Gutierrez, who works for the RMCHCS Wellness program.

“He always has a dream of fixing bikes,” Conejo said.

So one day, while talking with Scott Nydam, who is the former owner of the Silver Stallion Coffee and Bread restaurant Downtown, they discovered mutual interests and began talking about fixing up bikes that had been abandoned and making them usable again.

But where to get the bikes?

It turned out that Marisa Hutchinson, CEO of the Gallup Boys and Girls Club, had been collecting bikes for the past few years that were in disrepair and abandoned.

“These had flat tires and broken chains,” Conejo said all were fixable with a little work and some money to help buy supplies.

Knowing that Conejo was a big advocate of getting young people to exercise, Gutierrez approached him and asked if RMCHCS could help fund the project.

Conejo said it just happened that his wife, Judy, was having a birthday so as a surprise Conejo donated $500 to the project in her name to get it going.

In the meantime, Hutchinson enlisted the aid of Gallup Boy Scout Troop 47 to fix not only bikes but three-wheelers and those with training wheels. Nydam, who was once a professional cyclist, is now turning his former restaurant into a community service place to refurbish and sell bikes.

“Gallup has graveyards of abandoned bikes buried in basements, storage sheds and garages,” he said. “Some are in bad shape, others only have a flat tire. We are ready to bring these bikes back to life.”

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