SCITUATE — Rich Bonanno is arguably the busiest retiree on the South Shore. He can fix up to six bikes an hour at his backyard shop.
“I’m retired and this is a full-time job. I’m working eight hours a day whatever I’m doing,” Bonanno told WBZ-TV.
Seven years ago, Bonanno found some broken bicycles by the side of the road, repaired them, 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 dump keep them for me and I pick them up and fix them and then people started dropping them off. I get 20 to 30 messages a day. This has exploded into something I never thought it would be.” I’ve stopped keeping up with 6,000, but I do over 1,000 a year, so I easily push over 7,000 bikes,” Bonanno said.
Bonnano has more bikes these days than he knows what to do with them.
“There are days when I fix five bikes and get 10 donations. I fix 10 bikes; I get 15 donations. I never catch up. Sometimes I shake my head and say what I started? But I started it, so I can’t stop it.”
With the help of the Scituate community, Bonanno started the Rolling Wave Foundation. The city raised enough money to buy not only 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. Whatever I ask, I will get it. The people in this town are so wonderful,” 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,” said Tara Nagle Makaitis.
WBZ joined Bonanno when he donated six bikes to the Boys and Girls Club in Marshfield.
“Sixty percent of these kids come to the Boys and Girls Club and never have a bike experience. Not only do they learn to ride a bike, they get to take the bike home 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 to ride a bike today. It was great to see her finally get it and come around the corner, and she was so excited,” camp counselor Ryan Barry told WBZ.
“I just want the next generation of kids to enjoy what I’ve done. It’s just nice to give away bikes and see the smiles on these kids’ faces,” Bonanno said.
Bonanno doesn’t just give away bikes to kids – he also donates to adults, including veterans and people who are homeless.
He is also looking for bicycle mechanics who are willing to donate their time. To get in touch with Bonanno, visit the Rolling Wave Foundation here.