Agoura Hills resident Mark Blum, the founder of Mission with Bikes and a longtime friend of the local community, died last week after a long battle with multiple sclerosis. He was 54.
A memorial service is scheduled at Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village at 10 a.m. Fri., Oct. 19. A reception will follow the service.
Karen Blum, his ex-wife, said Blum died at a residential living home in Oak Park at 5 p.m. on Oct. 12. He was under hospice care, she said.
“His family was with him to the end,” Blum said. He was cremated by the Neptune Society, and his ashes will be spread at sea, Karen Blum said.
“His final request was to have God take him,” she said.
Blum launched Mission With Bikes on May 26, 1996, three years after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and was forced to resign as vice president of an insurance company.
Although Blum was confined to a wheelchair, he continued to receive hundred of used bicycles in the garage and back yard of his home, where he repaired them and sent them out to needy recipients. He made an impact on the lives of thousands, said longtime friend George Annino.
“Mark had been suffering too long, too long of a time,” Annino said. “He touched a lot of people’s lives all over the world. You only meet a person like Mark once in your life. He was truly a compassionate, caring, loving man.”
When Blum was unable to repair the bicycles on his own, he taught students how to fix them. In return, the students received community service credits.
Blum proved to be an inspiration to many.
Evan McGinley, 20, helped Blum fix bikes while he was a student at Oak Park High School. Blum’s lighthearted teaching techniques made the work fun, McGinley said.
“Mark didn’t have to work on bikes. It was a hobby that turned into a passion,” McGinley.
In all, Blum repaired and donated some 3,600 bicycles and gave them to more than 100 groups throughout the world. Blum’s bikes mostly reached needy children in Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange and Santa Barbara counties. Some were shipped to the Navajo and Hopi Indian reservations. Groups collected Blum’s refurbished bikes and sent them to children and adults on other continents, as well. Countries that received them included Mexico, Bulgaria, Russia, Uganda and Kenya, said Betty Blum, Mark’s mother and caregiver.
Calvary Church eventually stepped in and continued to operate Mission with Bikes out of a warehouse in Oxnard.
Karen Blum said donations may be sent in Mark’s name to the MS Society.
Blum is survived by his mother, Betty, 82, and two children, a daughter, Robyn Lynn, 23, and a son, David Allen, 19.