Helmet Donation Forms Partnership Between Free Bike Depot and Hospital

By SCOTT McCLOSKEY

Staff Writer

WHEELING –The Ohio Valley Medical Center’s Trauma Department has demonstrated it knows the meaning of “fellowship.”

Just across the street from the hospital is St. John Centre Wheeling Fellowship Church. Located at the rear of the church building at 22nd and Chapline streets is the Free Bike Depot, a ministry that provides free bicycles to the public as well as friendship. Members of the Ohio Valley Medical Center Trauma Department noticed the church’s efforts and recently donated 36 adult bicycle helmets to the Center Wheeling ministry as part of their injury prevention outreach program.

The Free Bike Depot volunteers take donated bicycles and other mobility devices and gives them away to those in need, according to co-founder John Warnick. He said individuals are afforded the ability to gain mobility through the use of bicycles and “expanded empowerment” for everyday transportation. Warnick is joined by co-founder David Hollway.

“We get mixes of all (bicycle) donations. Some are in great shape and some are broken and needing things,” Warnick explained. “Really the ministry is about empowering people and connecting the community,” he added.

Terry Jill Bonar, R.N. and trauma program manager with OVMC, said the hospital’s trauma department donated the helmets to help support a wonderful community program. Bonar said she initially found out about the Free Bike Depot through social media, and once she met with Warnick and found out about the bike ministry the trauma unit decided they wanted to do everything they could to help support it.

Bonar said the trauma department has seen a lot of bike injuries over the years, so implementing bike safety as part of their outreach program is obviously very important and makes for a great partnership with the bike depot.

“We wanted to contribute to their success … by donating as many helmets as they need to keep their bike recipients safe,” Bonar explained.

“Our plan is to have a continued effort to supply their program. We’re excited about connecting with them and forming a long term relationship,” Bonar added.

She said they plan to eventually donate children’s helmets as well but they want to make sure the children’s helmets are made to fit each individual child that receives one.

Warnick said he is very grateful to the OVMC Trauma Department for its donation of helmets and deep interest and partnership.

“We are simply overjoyed with what God is doing here at this amazing church building, as we literally take church to the masses through this bike ministry and so many other efforts here at St John’s Church. We are so grateful to Terry Jill and OVMC Trauma for their partnership,” Warnick commented.

In addition to himself, Warnick said the St. John Centre is listed online as a host to the “Warm Showers” program which he said is an international network that assists touring cyclists with temporary shelter while traveling through the area.

“When the bike ministry came to Centre Wheeling Fellowship … it was like this is perfect. It is in the heart of Wheeling. It is in Centre Market. It’s just easier. … We have people to where they can really experience Wheeling,” he commented.

Warnick said monetary donations are needed for tools and supplies to repair donated bikes. Donations of bicycles may be dropped off at the church, or arranged for pickup by calling 304-281-6085.

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