July 2016

Moses “The Bicycle Man” (D) and Ann Mathis

Bicycle repair man

Moses “The Bicycle Man” (D) and Ann Mathis

It all began in 1990 with a single broken bicycle, wheeled into Moses Mathis’ garage by a neighborhood boy seeking help.

“Next thing I knew, I had a bunch of kids in my garage with bicycles to be fixed,” Ann Mathis, his wife, remembers.

Over the next 25 years, Moses Mathis became known as The Bicycle Man for his commitment to repairing, collecting and donating bicycles to children. In 2006, President George W. Bush awarded him the President’s Call to Service Award, which recognizes those with a minimum of 4,000 hours of community service.

Born in Faison, North Carolina, a small farming town an hour south of Raleigh, Moses Mathis passed away in 2013 at 76. But Ann Mathis continues the couple’s long commitment to community and service.

A native of Walterboro, South Carolina, she met Moses in Washington, D.C., in 1967 when she worked at a drug store. After he overheard her talking about her 21st birthday party, he bought her a box of candy.

“He gave it to me, wished me ‘happy birthday,’ and we’ve been together ever since,” she remembers.

In 1990 the couple opened the Tiffany Pines Community Outreach Center, with the goal of helping give their community’s youth a better future by teaching work-ethic, self-esteem and community pride.

That program has transitioned to the Bicycle Man Community Outreach Projects. With Ann Mathis as its CEO, it has given approximately 30,000 bicycles to residents of six North Carolina counties with plans to expand to Pitt County.

“He believed that every child should have a bicycle,” Ann Mathis said about her late husband.

The program donates bicycles at Christmas and then begins collecting more each January. It receives bikes in all conditions from private citizens, as well as from corporations.

“When we give the bikes away, it just melts your heart. Sometimes these bikes are the only things these kids get for Christmas,” Ann Mathis said.

She still recalls the year a woman and her son who waited nearly six hours, but who had not registered for a bicycle.

“I thought her name was on the list and I had missed it,” Ann Mathis said. “I went and talked to her and she said she was just waiting because her son wanted a bicycle but she didn’t have the money for it. That touched me so much. I gave her a bike and they were just so happy.”

The program has since expanded beyond bicycles, however, Mrs. Mathis still faces challenges to get funding for the Building Up Grades and Give a Kid a Break Programs which were started to encourage children to improve their grades and teach work ethics.

“I wish Moses were here to see it all, but I know he’s looking down,” Ann Mathis said.

Along with being The Bicycle Man, Moses Mathis hosted two radio programs, and worked as a mentor for teenagers in his church.

Ann Mathis is also involved in the Nexus Organization, a community service club that awards scholarships to high school students.

She sees their legacies in simple terms.

“It has always been about the kids,” she said. “I hope people remember us for the work that we’ve done and for helping and working in our community.”

Creditline: Jun Chou