WarrenJanuary 13, 2014
No Bike Left Behind thanks to Eagle Scout
By Maria Allard
C & G Staff Writer
Mitchell Waske, front row, center, recruited others to help restore about 40 bicycles for No Bike Left Behind. Also in the photo are NBLB lead mechanical engineer Arnold Gomez, far left, back row; and NBLB President Gerry Pazdziora, far left, front row.
WARREN — There’s nothing like a good bicycle ride on a warm, sunny day, and one local boy scout is making sure more people have the opportunity for that pastime.
Cousino High School junior Mitchell Waske recently teamed up with the Warren nonprofit organization No Bike Left Behind to restore about 40 bicycles for less-fortunate children and adults. At the same time, Waske worked on a project to earn his Eagle Scout badge. Cousino is part of Warren Consolidated Schools.
On Dec. 14, Waske, members of NBLB and a number of friends willing to help gathered in the Waske family garage to adjust brakes, change tires and more to get the bikes ready as Christmas presents.
“I’ve always been privileged to have a lot of bikes,” Waske said. “It’s nice to help out kids and adults who don’t have bikes. (The bikes are) not going to be perfect, but we’re going to make them look good. It’s just really humbling to me to know I can help someone in need.”
“He’s a great kid. He helped us out a lot. At the end of the year, I needed that help so badly,” NBLB President Gerry Pazdziora said. “He planned it, put it together and led this project. At the end of the day, it was done. He ended up refurbishing over 40 bicycles in one afternoon. Some of them went to families already. Some went to the warehouse for next season.”
Once the bikes were completed, NBLB members distributed them to several local organizations that, in turn, gave them to families in need.
The Eagle Scout is the highest advancement rank in boy scouting. Waske is a member of Scout Pack No. 1954 out of St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church on Hoover Road. There are many steps to earning the rank of Eagle Scout, Waske said.
“You work with your scout leader and go before the Eagle Board of Review,” he said. “Someone from the Eagle Scout district goes over your project.”
According to the Boy Scouts of America website www.scouting.org, to earn the Eagle Scout rank, scouts must progress through the ranks from Tenderfoot to Eagle, earn 21 merit badges, serve six months in a leadership position, conduct a service project and participate in a Scoutmaster conference.
Waske joined the scouting program while in the first grade. It has proven fun, educational and adventurous for him. A highlight came when troop members enjoyed a four-day trip in the Florida Keys without running water or electricity. Waske compared the experience to the Tom Hanks’ movie “Cast Away.”
Pazdziora created NBLB in 2009. The charitable organization recycles preowned bicycles for less-fortunate families to use for recreation, transportation or both. There is a group of staff members and a board of directors. Pazdziora’s wife Lynn is a huge help, and Pazdziora called lead mechanical engineer Arnold Gomez his “right-hand man.”
“It’s a lot of fun,” Pazdziora said. “It’s got its little blessings.”
Pazdziora has been a bike enthusiast since a kid and wanted to find a way to give back to others who could use a little extra. The NBLB president receives donated bikes and bike parts from the general public. He also received stolen bikes that haven’t been claimed by their owners from the Warren Police Department.
“We store them. We prepare them as needed. A lot of stuff is used parts that are interchangeable with bikes. We work in my garage,” Pazdziora said. “We give back about 200 bikes a year.”
For more information on No Bike Left Behind, visit www.nobikeleftbehind.com. The group also has a Facebook page.