CommunityLet's Hear It


'I see big hearts:' Indian River County group helps people struggling with transportation

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Posted at 6:14 AM, May 07, 2024

VERO BEACH, Fla. — Amy Banov sees a lot more than bicycles within a certain warehouse in Vero Beach.

"I see big hearts," said Banov, the president of the nonprofit Bike Walk Indian River County.

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Banov and an army of volunteers are on a mission to make life better, and transportation easier, for people like Jeff.

"I needed a bike," said Jeff, who only wanted to go by his first name. "My bike went down and I was needing to get to work."

Banov helped found Bike Walk more than a decade ago.

"There are as many as 16,000 people today in Indian River County who we can help by giving them reliable transportation in the form of a bicycle," Banov said.

"They gave me a bike, a good bike, and I've been working pretty much ever since," Jeff said. "It let me get back and forth to work, or I would have been grounded because there aren't a lot of programs for people who can't financially afford it."

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Bike Walk aims to gift one bike per week to someone struggling with transportation, and they now regularly surpass that goal. Community partners play a critical role.

"We help people to self-sufficiency," said Wendy McDaniel with United Against Poverty.

Partnering organizations often take the mission beyond the bicycle and help people secure jobs, housing, and mental health support.

"They come into our office. They sit down and talk to us, and a lot of times, it's the first time in years someone heard them," McDaniel said.

Jeff sees hope in the warehouse.

"These people came through for me. Immediately, I got a bike," Jeff said.

Bike Walk Indian River County received a $100,000 award from the county’s Impact 100 organization. The nonprofit got the financial boost after they came to a WPTV Let’s Hear It community meet-up, and multiple stories aired about their work to provide reliable transportation to adults and children across Indian River County.

There is an application process and several eligibility requirements to receive a bicycle. To learn more about the multi-layered work of Bike Walk and for volunteer opportunities, click here.