Bicycle Donations Keep Memory Alive

For the past five years, many IHN children have received their own bicycles thanks to Mike’s Bikes, a yearly donation program initiated by Mike’s daughter, Merrill Silver. Read in Merrill’s own words how this yearly activity serves to keep her father’s memory alive.

My father, Mike, died at age 89. Well into his 70s, my father was an active man. He walked the Coney Island boardwalk every Sunday morning and bicycled across Brooklyn as he visited friends and did errands. What a good life he led until he was 80 years old when Parkinson’s disease attacked his nervous system.

After his death, I had a choice. I could remember my father walking with a cane, then a walker and ultimately, not walking at all. But if I remember him that way and in a wheelchair in a nursing home, my heart inevitably breaks.

On the other hand, if my family donates bicycles at Christmas time to IHN families, then I can smile as I remember my dad. My husband and I are familiar with IHN because our local Montclair synagogue — Congregation Shomrei Emunah — hosts IHN families twice a year. Our members volunteer and root for the families to become independent. In that spirit, five years ago, my husband and I decided to donate a bicycle (helmet and lock included) to a male teenager. The next year, we did the same for a female teenager. Last year, we purchased two tricycles for younger children.

For Christmas 2013, our daughter in Philadelphia and our son in NYC followed in our footsteps as together we donated a total of four bicycles to IHN families. In the Christmas card I wrote each child, I described my father explaining that although Mike was Jewish and his family does not celebrate Christmas, it is our pleasure to give these bicycles in his memory.

When I think of local kids riding “Mike’s Bikes” I can remember my father with a smile on my face. And I can remember his smile, too.