Woman fixes hundreds of bikes in her kitchen and gives them to Calgary kids

A Calgary woman has turned the kitchen in her southwest home into a makeshift repair shop, where she's fixing up bikes and giving them to kids in need.

‘I just want to offer something to kids that they’re not able to get otherwise,’ says Stephanie Katelnikoff

Stephanie Katelnikoff runs a one-woman bicycle repair shop in the kitchen of her Calgary home. (Jenny Howe/CBC)

Stephanie Katelnikoff has fixed up more than 100 bikes recently — and she's giving them all away to kids.

"I kind of just wake up and start working on bikes and work on them until it's time to go to bed," the Calgary woman told The Homestretch.

Katelnikoff is using the kitchen in her southwest home as a makeshift repair shop, complete with a drop cloth on the floor.  

After fixing the bikes and ensuring they look shiny and new, Katelnikoff donates them to Calgary kids.

"There's a lot of avenues for other ways that people can get help, whether it's for housing or food or clothes, but as far as I know there's not really much out there for bikes, so I just want to offer something to kids that they're not able to get otherwise," she said.

"If all your friends have a bike and you don't have one, that definitely sucks a whole bunch. It's exercise. It's entertainment. It's freedom and transportation. It's a whole bunch of different things."

1-woman bike repair shop

Katelnikoff gave away brand new bikes to Calgary kids last year, after receiving unexpected money and wanting to do something nice with it.

Stephanie Katelnikoff watches YouTube videos to learn how to repair bikes. (Jenny Howe/CBC)

This year, she's turned to buying used bikes and fixing them up herself. She's repaired 104 bikes in about three weeks, and plans to continue at that pace as long as she can.   

Katelnikoff said repairing the bikes sometimes involves watching a lot of YouTube videos to learn what to do.

"I usually spend about an hour on every bike, sometimes a little bit longer. And some bikes don't really need much so it's a lot less, but about an hour per bike is kind of average," she said.

Kids are 'super excited'

Katelnikoff's first job was as a bicycle courier, but she said she hasn't been on a bike in a few years. Her motivation for the giveaway is to help kids, because of her own experiences as a child.

"When I was younger I spent a lot of years in and out of the hospital. I was really sick growing up, so I mean I had a lot of doctors and nurses that were super, super nice to me and it just made everything so much better and easier," she said.

Katelnikoff connects with kids in need of new wheels through word of mouth, the free section on Kijiji and posts on Facebook buy and sell groups.

"Sometimes parents don't tell their kids that they're coming to pick up a new bike. It's a surprise, so they don't know until they walk through the gate that there's a new bike for them and they're super excited," she said.

"It's pretty rewarding to be able to give a kid something that for a lot of them is a really big thing."

Stephanie Katelnikoff has repaired 104 bikes in about three weeks, all of which are donated to kids in need of new wheels. (Jenny Howe/CBC)

If you know somebody who needs a bike or wants to donate a bike, you can get in touch with Stephanie Katelnikoff through her posts on the free section in Kijiji, or she's on Facebook under the name Steph Kat.

With files from The Homestretch