The story of Jeff and the Sunshine Bike

Can I tell you a story about the pure goodness of humanity? About how kindness can move as swiftly as breath from a word through a heart to a talented hand?

Can I tell you the story of Jeff, who read about a little boy’s limping tricycle and showed up just a few hours later to weld it back together? 

How he scooped up that unassuming little trike early one morning and returned it later that day all shined up and ready to roll? That he even added a bell?

Because that’s what happened here this week and we’re all so very thrilled.

It unfolded like this:

I wrote a post about how a savvy little four-year old I know jumped on an old tricycle and rode off into summer. I mentioned that the trike had a wobbly wheel.

We’re the kind of people who would have trotted behind that wobbly wheel all summer thinking, “We really should get that wheel fixed” but never actually repairing it. 

Just a few hours after I posted that story, a man I had not met before reached out to me and offered to fix the wheel. A friend of a few of my friends, Jeff had read the story and wanted to help. 

He and his wife Bobbie popped over to give the trike a look-see later that afternoon. He pointed out a few things I had not noticed before, like how the tire treads were completely worn down.

“Imagine the miles this trike has ridden,” he said.

I told him it had been my little sister Jenny’s bike. She was an active little thing and roamed our neighborhood at will. I imagine those tires could tell a story or two about some of the shenanigans she and her neighborhood friends cooked up.

Jenny told me she called it “the sunshine bike” back then and it seems like a fitting name now.

When he returned the bike, Jeff explained the repairs he made, and the ones he didn’t.

He welded the tire spokes back together and added some hardware to help the wheels roll smoother. He didn’t replace them because they work just fine and he really wanted to preserve the bike’s history.

He welded the wire basket and tilted it a little to make it safer but he left the zip ties (because they have a history too) and he left it crooked because that’s how Mickey likes it.

He shined it up, because he’s a really nice guy, and he returned it before the four-year old even realized it had been gone.

Jeff also told me his work comes with a lifetime warranty.

We live in a complicated world and things happen that test our faith in each other. I know people who worry about bringing babies into this world because sometimes it can seem like a very cruel place.

But, we also live in a world where a busy guy will drop everything to repair a four-year old kid’s tricycle.

So, maybe next time you talk to someone who’s feeling down about the state of the world, you can tell them the story of Jeff and the Sunshine Bike.

I bet it will make them smile.

Jeff Mullen read the post I had written about the limping tricycle and offered to help. He welded that little tricycle back together and returned her all shiny and new. How lucky we all are to live in a world where people like Jeff offer their talent and their hearts so spontaneously!
I mean, really! That tricycle is positively preening now! Just look at that shiny new bell!
Mickey scootched right into the newly welded baskets (with the dear old zip ties). And somebody really loved that bell!
Those tires have a lot of history and some newly welded spokes.
The kid and his sunshine bike are rolling off into a world that looks a lot brighter today.

13 thoughts on “The story of Jeff and the Sunshine Bike

  1. This would be the Jeff I know! Didn’t think the story could get any sweeter but Jeff did just that.

  2. Yes, that is the Jeff I know also! What a fabulous story…both of them. Thanks for sharing Laura!

  3. To Jeff and those who move through the world steeped in kindness, thank you for the lift and hope you give to so many of us. And to Eric who does the same. I went to Marquette University many years ago. My dear friend Eric, whom I met in theology 101, moved into the Methodist church near 27th and WI his sophomore year. It was a sweet deal for a college kid. He got room, board and a monthly stipend to live in the cute, tiny apartment within the church to be it’s live-in caretaker, security guard and janitor. This was long before MU did much to revitalize the surrounding neighborhood. Muggings, drug deals and occasionally worse, more chilling crimes occured, not infrequently, during my years there. Although, Eric had his own brand of neighborhood revitilization growing. He would regularly dumpster dive for anything useful that he used himself or gave away. He made lamps out of old car engines, which adorned his living room, a ski rack out of discarded pcp pipe so we could head to the U.P. to ski and cram more bodies into the car and chalet to keep the cost down for friends who love to ski. He was the epitome of reduce, reuse, recycle. He still is. He also collected bike parts. It began, innocently, by fixing a neighbor kid’s bike after he moved into the church. It turned into, building new bikes out of old parts which he gave away to the neighborhood residents. It warmed my heart to see people peddling around on Eric’s rebuilt bikes as I was rushing off to class. He became known as “Eric the bike man.” He brightened up the MU neighborhood with the same kindness and skill as Jeff. I am so grateful for people like Jeff and Eric, who see a need and meet it. The ripple of your goodness is renewing and deeply appreciated. Thank you for another beautiful story rippling with hope and goodness.

    1. I didn’t realize you went to Marquette too! Eric the Bike Man sounds like a great person (just like you!)

  4. My smile got even bigger after reading this addition Laura! Thank you and thanks Jeff. People like both of you make this world a little brighter!

  5. Laura- you are so kind to share the bike and this story. Jeff Mullen. You are so kind to step in to help. It takes a village. I’m proud to say I grew up in the midst of both Laura and Jeff. BTW- Jeff- I’m sharing this story with my brother Doug! He’ll get a kick out of it!

  6. I love the story of Jeff and Sunshine bike. Thanks for sending some sunshine my way Laura.

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