'TWOcan Bike Service' offers free rides to seniors

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Photo courtesy Shauna Carter-Ruthenbeck

With spring just around the corner, many are taking advantage of the snow that's still in the area. 

Local artist Kathy Haubrich carved a snow sculpture of a toucan being used to promote "Marilyn’s TWOcan Bike Service." The service will offer free bike rides to seniors in wheelchairs, allowing them to enjoy the outdoors. 

“The bike rides began when I wanted to take my own physically challenged mother bike riding a few years ago—off the road and through the parks,” Haubrich told Fox 9. “She was paralyzed by polio in 1955.” 

Despite being paralyzed Haubrich’s mother remained incredibly active in the community. 

Several years ago Haubrich found a nihola cargo bike online. She was able to purchase it, but getting the bike to Minnesota proved to be challenging.

The artist received a phone call from a company asking her to carve pumpkins at their company Halloween party. That company was C.H. Robinson. They agreed to a work exchange. Haubrich carved pumpkins for their party and they delivered her bike. 

“My mom loved feeling the wind in her hair as she rode in the bike!” Haubrich said. 

Haubrich lifted her mother in and out of the bike with a manual hoyer lift. Once in the bike she couldn’t get out at any point along the way. Haubrich started dreaming of purchasing a nihola bike with a wheelchair platform, but at that point she wasn’t able to afford one. 

Haubrich’s mother passed away, and after walking by the empty bike in the garage for a year Haubrich decided it was time to put the bike back into action. She decided to launch "Marilyn's TWOcan Bike Service," offering free rides to seniors. But she knew she would also need a bike with a wheelchair platform. 

With a hefty price tag of $5,000 she decided the project might warrant a GoFundMe campaign. With the help of donations she was able to purchase the bike last year, but by the time it was delivered it was too cold to start rides for seniors. 

Free rides for seniors will be available starting in May. Haubrich said she is putting the names of the donors on the wheelchair platform as a visual reminder to riders about how much and how many people care about them.