Portage County bike doctor works off the clock to bring bikes to those in need

Posted at 3:50 PM, Sep 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-27 17:50:31-04

Sometimes they're handed down or donated. Often times they're left on the tree lawn. But that old bike of yours may not be laying in a junkyard somewhere if Ray Willoughby has anything to do with it. 

By day, Willoughby works at Allen Alloys and Iron. But when his shift is over, his work as Portage County's bike doctor begins. 

"I can't see letting a bike go to waste when kids need them," Willoughby said.

What you leave on the tree lawn, Ray Willoughby sees as an opportunity, and since he works at a scrap yard, he said he sees too many of them wasted. 

"It might have a flat tire in the garage, instead of putting a tube in it they'll go buy them a brand new bike and scrap the old one," he explained.

So he started bringing them home.

Every bike he fixes is given to someone in need.

But those needs vary as much as his creations do. 

"One lady? I just fixed a bike for her. She has arthritis real bad. So I made a real easy peddling bike."

Willoughby said he's even built special bikes for kids with disabilities. 

"Handicap kids. One little girl? I forgot what she's got, but loss of her kidneys. She's real small," he explained. 

Now known as "The Bike Doctor," Ray Willoughby has fixed bikes for foster families of seven, children with scoliosis, and little ones who are used to sitting on their friends handlebars.

So why does he do what he does, off the clock, with 6 kids at home and a full time job? 

"It's just, well, when we first moved here the kids didn't have bikes. The neighbors got together and got them bikes. I've been given so much since I've been here, I'm just trying to pay back a little bit," Willoughby said. 

There is one thing he'll take in exchange for his bikes.

"Kids smiles? That's all it's worth."

Four months in and Willoughby has seen hundreds of smiles. 

He and his family already prepared and fixed more than 40 bikes for a Christmas toy drive. 

With a garage and yard full of hundreds of patients, and about 500 given away so far, the bike doctor said this practice is just getting started. 

"We're gonna do it all winter long! We're gonna have more bikes for next year. And the year on and the year on."

Willoughby buys all the parts he needs himself; some of them are donated.

For more information on what he does, or if you'd like to help, you can get in touch with The Bike Doctor on Facebook.