Milton woman raises funds to buy bike for local man

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Alicia Adams Santa Rosa Press Gazette @aliciaadamsSRPG

MILTON — Earlier this year, Jennifer Johnson made an unlikely friend who has since become a big part of her life.

Bobby Burke, known by many in the Milton community as Mr. Bobby, was walking from his home in Bagdad to his job in East Milton — more than eight miles each way. One day, Johnson decided to stop and ask him if he needed a ride. 

A friendship soon blossomed. 

“I’ve seen this man ride down my road for some time now on his regular two-wheel pedal bike, but one day I [saw] him walking and I stopped to ask him where he was going and to see if he needed a ride,” Johnson said. “Ever since this day … every time I see Mr. Bobby walking, I give him a ride, even when it makes me late to work. 

“After riding with Mr. Bobby for quite a few times now, I have learned he is 80 years old. He is the sweetest man I know.” 

Johnson said she has learned a lot about Bobby and his life during their regular commutes to work and when she drives him around town for errands. According to Johnson, Bobby is well-known around town and there are some other generous residents who give him rides to work and give him money for food. 

An anonymous police officer from the city of Milton donates money each month to a fund set aside for Bobby at Burger King to buy ice cream cones, and an unknown resident has a fund at the Milton Bakery for Bobby to purchase a muffin on his way to work in the mornings. 

After driving Bobby to work for a while, Johnson said she started thinking of solutions that would be best for him in the long run. 

“I started looking and I told my husband, ‘You know, a three-wheeled electric bicycle would be awesome,’” Johnson said. 

Eventually, Johnson found the perfect bike for Bobby after researching online and calling local bike shops. She decided to start a GoFundMe page to raise money to purchase the bike, and exceeded her $500 goal by raising $954 in less than a month. 

The comments section on the fund page has several notes from residents sharing how they also know Mr. Bobby and the impact he has made on their life. Johnson said she plans to use any extra money she receives from the campaign to purchase extra bicycle accessories, warm winter clothes for Bobby, and she will add some money to his fund at the bakery. 

“I feel this bike will really help him not only with his commute to and from work, but also help with the exertion he gets from peddling a bike 8.5 miles six days a week,” Johnson said. 

Johnson presented the bike to Bobby on Dec. 21. She said she only had to show Bobby one time how to use the bike, and he got the hang of it right away. 

A video she had taken on the bike presentation has more than 16,000 views and nearly 300 shares on Facebook.

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