CHICOPEE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- We are learning more about a Springfield man who police said died Sunday night in a single car crash on I-91 north in East Windsor, CT.
His family and friends are speaking only to Western Mass News about the impact he had on the community.
"He was always here when we needed him. It's a huge loss for us," said Robert Charland.
It's safe to say everyone in western Massachusetts knows who 'Bob the Bike Guy' is. Charland started the non-profit Pedal Thru Youth two years ago, working to fix up bikes to give to kids in need. He said the success of the program wouldn't be possible without his hard working team members, especially one in particular: Russ Jacobs.
"When I started Pedal Thru Youth two years ago, he was one of the first ones that got on-board and started delivering bikes for us, picking up bikes, transporting stuff. Every time we were getting ready for a school, he would help us get the bikes ready to be delivered," Charland explained.
Charland told Western Mass News that Jacobs was there for all the long nights and big moments.
"Anytime we put the call out saying, 'Hey, we're cramming for a school. We don't have enough time to get ready,' he'd show up and he'd stay all night long if necessary...nidnight, one o'clock in the morning if we needed him to. It seemed to change his attitude. Sometimes, he was like the tough guy on the outside, but when he came here, he completely changed. He was like a kid again. He got all excited working on the bikes. On the day of delivery, he was smiling and speaking with his family. He lit up when he talked about working with us to them," Charland added.
Jacobs' family is asking in lieu of flowers, they'd like to see people make a donation to Pedal Thru Youth.
"Our biggest thing is flowers come and go, but if you can make a lasting gift, if anything stays in his name besides his kids and his family, we want it to be that his memory lives through Pedal Thru Youth. He loved being there to bring the bikes to the schools and it's just what he wanted to do," said Jacobs' sister, Elaine Connor.
Charland added, "Some of the people wanted to set up a bike stand, like a memorial for him. Other people on our team wanted to make a shadow box with a t-shirt in it that he liked. We're just going to keep doing it. That's what he would have wanted. He would have kept going."