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'I never catch up,' Retired Scituate man fixing thousands of bikes to donate to kids in need

'I never catch up,' Retired Scituate man busy fixing bikes to donate to kids in need
'I never catch up,' Retired Scituate man busy fixing bikes to donate to kids in need 03:06

SCITUATE -- Rich Bonanno might just be the busiest retired man on the South Shore. He can fix up to six bikes an hour in his backyard shop.  

"I'm retired and this is a full-time job. I'm eight hours a day no matter what I'm doing," Bonanno told WBZ-TV.  

Seven years ago, Bonanno found a few beat up bicycles on the side of the road, fixed them up, and gave them away to some neighborhood kids. Before he knew it, he was hooked and on a mission to make sure every kid had a bike.  

"The guys at the Scituate landfill save them for me and I pick them up and repair them and then people started dropping them off. I get 20-to-30 messages a day. This has exploded into something that I never thought it would ever be. I stopped keeping track at 6,000 but I do over 1,000 a year so I'm easily pushing over 7,000 bikes," Bonanno said. 

These days Bonnano has more bikes than he knows what to do with.  

"There are days that I will fix five bikes and get 10 donations. I fix 10 bikes; I'll get 15 donations. I never catch up. Sometimes I shake my head and say what did I start? But I started it, so I can't stop it."  

With the help of the Scituate community, Bonanno started the Rolling Wave Foundation. The town raised enough money so he could not only purchase the trailer for his bike shop but also the van to transport them. The name is a nod to his other passion, surfing. 

"The town of Scituate, there aren't even words to describe how they support what I do. No matter what I ask for, I'll get it. That's how wonderful the people in this town are," Bonanno explained.  

Bonanno wasn't exaggerating. Someone showed up to donate a bike while WBZ was there.  

 "Everyone in Scituate knows Rich. Everyone knows him. They all want to donate," Tara Nagle Makaitis said. 

WBZ accompanied Bonanno as he donated six bikes to the Boys and Girls Club in Marshfield.  

"Sixty percent of these kids come to the Boys and Girls Club never having an experience on a bike. Not only do they get to learn how to ride the bike, they get to take the bike home with them at the end of the week. It wouldn't have been possible without Rich," said Jim Bunnell, CEO of the Marshfield Boys and Girls Club.  

"We just had a camper learn how to ride a bike today. It was awesome seeing her finally figure it out and she made it around the bend, and she was so excited," camp counselor Ryan Barry told WBZ.  

"I just want the next generation of kids to enjoy what I did. It's just fun to give away bikes and see the smiles on these kids' faces," Bonanno said.

Bonanno doesn't just give away bikes to children -- he donates to adults as well, including veterans and people experiencing homelessness.

He is also looking for bike mechanics who are willing to donate their time. To get in touch with Bonanno, visit the Rolling Wave Foundation here

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