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‘This is like an early Christmas’: Milwaukee community leader Andre Lee Ellis gives away hundreds of bikes for his birthday

'This is like an early Christmas': Milwaukee community leader Andre Lee Ellis gives away hundreds of bikes for his birthday

More than 200 people gathered on a large, grassy lawn on West Reservoir Avenue Saturday morning to celebrate Andre Lee Ellis’ 62nd birthday. Like many…

Sunday, Aug 14

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More than 200 people gathered on a large, grassy lawn on West Reservoir Avenue Saturday morning to celebrate Andre Lee Ellis’ 62nd birthday.

Like many birthday parties, guests enjoyed good company, a cookout and a DJ. However, instead of giving presents to Ellis, each guest left with gifts — a new bicycle, a helmet and a bike lock.

"When you give, you get. So when you get, give," Ellis said.

It’s a philosophy he strives to apply throughout his life.

With the help of friends, community members and employees from Wheel & Sprocket bike shops, Ellis gave away about 200 bikes — ranging in size from toddler bikes with training wheels to plenty of adult bikes — to residents of all ages on Milwaukee’s north side.

The city provided the bikes and bike accessories, and Wheel & Sprocket provided on-site tune-ups and repairs.

Guests, many dressed in neon yellow T-shirts they received when they arrived at the party, lined up in front of Ellis, and, in groups of four at a time, selected a new bike with help from Wheel & Sprocket employees and community volunteers.Once a person had their new bike, Wheel & Sprocket employees helped them adjust the seat height, pump up the tires and understand how the gear system works.Ellis said he hopes the free bikes improve health and safety in his community, which has one of the highest incarceration rates of Black men in the nation and one of the shortest life expectancy rates ."If more people are riding bikes, we […]

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