Breaking News
More () »

Mechanic-turned minister helps nonprofit deliver bikes to people in need

Pat Simmons needed a mechanic. He prayed for the right one. Then, Bryan O'Carroll's email arrived.

DOVER, Fla. — Pat Simmons knew in order to accomplish all he wanted for his nonprofit, Bikes For Christ, he’d need some help. He was taking in so many used bicycles for redistribution that he couldn’t keep up with the workload.

He prayed for a mechanic. Then he got an email from Bryan O’Carroll.

“I sent him an email. He said he needed a mechanic,” said the minister at nearby Holy Innocence Episcopal Church. 

“In fact, what he said was that he’d been praying for a mechanic.”

The duo is now cranking out bikes by the dozens. Last year, Bikes For Christ, which provides bikes to around 50 organizations in Tampa Bay, fixed up 180 bikes. 

This year, Simmons’ outreach will hit 300.

“I see hope,” he said, looking into his tent with 50 bikes waiting to be repaired.

Bikes For Christ was started in 2016 a year after Simmons took a mission’s trip to Nicaragua. He saw intense poverty there, and that inspired him to fix a need in his own community – inadequate transportation.

“Finally, the light bulb when off above my head,” he said. 

Pat started focusing on helping kids, homeless, and especially veterans.

“Veterans get our best bikes,” he said from his shed on the back of his property, which stores all the finished bikes.

Donations come in the form of used bikes and cash. Either makes a difference. Obtaining reliable transportation opens doors for employment for many who receive. The bikes are all accompanied by lights, which are donated by Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and a copy of the Gospel of John.

“We want the person receiving these to know that we love them and that God loves them as well,” said Simmons.

That’s O’Carroll’s aim as well. He has spent about nine years in the ministry but worked on bikes all his life. For a time, he maintained bikes for his kid’s BMX team in Sarasota.

Now, it’s his way of getting his hands dirty and extending his ministry outside the walls of the church.

“I enjoy working on bicycles,” he said. “I think myself and my colleagues could benefit from getting our hands dirty from time to time. It’s hard to lead a church to be the church if you yourself are not being the church.”

Bikes For Christ provides bikes to groups like Metropolitan Ministries, ECHO, HCSO, and Tampa Police, among many others. Those organizations deliver the bikes, and Simmons sees the deliveries through photos relayed from the case workers.

The smiles in the photos is the payoff to all the hard work of organizing, refurbishing and coordinating the bike dropoffs.

“You know it’s going to make a difference,” said O’Carroll.

In all, around 800 bikes have found new homes because of Simmons. It’s an outreach he plans to continue for the rest of his life.

Teamed up with a mechanic turned minister, Bikes For Christ has many milestones still ahead.

To donate to Bikes For Christ, visit www.Bikes4Christ.com.

You can watch more of Bobby Lewis' On the Road series here:

RELATED: Nonprofit uplifts seniors who would go without gifts at Christmas

RELATED: Jewelry made from t-shirts paves Tampa woman’s road to sobriety

RELATED: Loss of a friend inspires teen's indoor fishing kits

What other people are reading right now:


Download on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Stay In the Know! Sign up now for the Brightside Blend Newsletter

Before You Leave, Check This Out