Jul. 09, 2002
Los Angeles Daily News
After Mark Blum was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, he returned to a childhood love: bicycles. Since 1996, the Agoura resident and his fellow volunteers have rebuilt more than 1,200 bicycles in his garage and given them to charity.
His Mission With Bikes program has donated bikes to Los Angeles schoolchildren with perfect attendance, homeless adults with no other source of transportation and charity toy drives. He recently gave two restored mountain bikes as incentive prizes for participants in the 2002 National MS Society's Bike Tour and Fest.
"Mark is an exceptional person, someone who has overcome his illness to find ways to help others," said Joan Young, president of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society's Channel Islands chapter. "We're lucky to have him as a role model."
No cure yet exists for multiple sclerosis, a chronic degenerative neurological disease that affects more than 350,000 Americans.
Blum, who was diagnosed with MS in 1993, coordinates with 119 different organizations in the United States and abroad. Now limited in dexterity and legally blind because of the disease, he relies on volunteers to do the repair work on donated bicycles. His garage is filled with spare parts and tools. He refers to eighth-grader Walter Hamlin, the son of his nurse, Tina, as his senior mechanic.
"Bikes give people freedom," Blum said. "A bike is a vehicle. It's a way of getting from point A to point B without having to ask somebody."
To donate an old bicycle or to volunteer, contact Blum at (818) 991-5805.
Copyright © 2002 Los Angeles Daily News