Bob has always been active in the community, working with children since 2003, when he led a Girl Scout Troop for his daughter and coached her softball team. In 2012, he started teaching automotive for the Willie Ross School for the Deaf, and around the same time, he started fixing up bikes to donate to less fortunate kids. In 2017, after being diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease, he decided that he wanted to create a formal organization and start donating bikes to large groups of children, including many students within our Springfield Public Schools. Thus, the idea for Pedal Thru Youth was born. Bob has made significant contributions to the community that also includes volunteering his time to supply law enforcement agencies around MA and CT with backpacks filled with essential supplies for the homeless.
Mayor Sarno stated, “First, I want to thank the Western Mass Hyundai dealership team of Gary Rome, Jeb Balise, Carla Cosenzi and their respective teams for continuing this wonderful and heartwarming tradition. Congratulations to Bob ‘The Bike Man’ Charland on this well-deserved recognition. I cannot think of a more deserving recipient then Bob. He has giving back so much to our community, especially to our youth and our Springfield Public Schools. I remember back in 2017 when Bob reached out to my office and inquired about locating some extra temporary space to help store some of his bikes that were donated. I was more than happy to help and provided some space at our DPW facility at Tapley Street as a temporary storage location for the many bikes he was receiving to fix up and donate to our children and their families. The smiles Bob has helped put on so many faces is truly heartwarming and I was happy to be a part of this event to congratulate and celebrate Bob ‘The Bike Man’ Charland and all that he has done for our community.”
Hyundai Salute To Heroes is an annual event that was launched in 2021 and was brought to the Western Mass region by Gary Rome, President of Gary Rome Hyundai and President of the Hyundai Dealers Advertising Association to recognize local, everyday heroes. The Western Mass Hyundai Dealers will be awarding Bob with a brand new 2023 Hyundai Tucson SEL AWD valued at $33,495 and they will pay for all taxes and fees associated with the vehicle.
“Salute to Heroes is our way, as a dealer body, to acknowledge the ordinary people of our Western Mass community who selflessly do heroic things. Our local communities continue to go through so much, Salute to Heroes is the Western Mass Hyundai dealer’s way of saying thank you.” Said Gary Rome.
This year’s appointed judges were Anthony Cignoli, President of A.L Cignoli & Associates, Denise Jordan, Executive Director of the Springfield Housing Authority, and Dr. Linda Thompson, President of Westfield State University.