Nonprofit brings bikes to Jamaica

courtesy of One Love Brigade • Jon Liesenfeld, left, with a child who has just received a bike from One Love Birgade, a nonprofit that dontates bikes to kids in Jamaica.

courtesy of Jon Liesenfeld • The bust of a woman given to Liesenfeld on his first trip to Jamaica when he was 16 in 1992. He still has it in his St. Anthony home.

courtesy of One Love Brigade • A girl and boy examine a bike in Jamaica.

St. Anthony resident has delivered some 400 bikes, and counting.


One night in 2014, Jon Liesenfeld was at his friends house in Jamaica for dinner.

Liesenfeld, raised in Richfield and now living in St. Anthony, stood next to his friend, Peter, a native of Jamaica, over a fire cooking curry goat in a pot atop a tire rim, which was acting as a makeshift grill. Peter’s children and some neighborhood kids played nearby. 

Liesenfeld noticed one of the kid’s bike. It was badly worn and hardly operational. It was also the only bike — the kids took turns and watched whoever was up. 

Liesenfeld asked Peter why the bike was so beat up and why there weren’t other bikes around.

“Nobody has bikes,” said Peter. “Kids should have bikes,” Liesenfeld replied. 

This thought propelled Liesenfeld, 41, who works as a DJ for radio station 93X, to create his nonprofit organization One Love Brigade, which brings bikes to kids in Jamaica. 

A year later, in 2015, One Love Brigade brought 114 bikes. Liesenfeld was able to push that number up to 300 in 2016. 


One spontaneous moment to One Love

Liesenfeld was stranded in Jamaica. It was 1992 and he was 16.

Liesenfeld, who had not spoken to his mother in the three weeks since bolting to the West Indies on a whim with a friend — and his friend’s dad’s soon-to-be maxed-out credit card — called his mom. 

She was furious. She told Liesenfeld he’d have to figure out a way home.

“Mom, I’m in the West Indies,” Liesenfeld recalls telling her, “I have no money.” She sent the money.

Upon his return, Liesenfeld incurred his concerned mother’s wrath. But he still had the memories of three glorious weeks in Jamaica. 

The boys got a hotel room in Montego Bay and ordered french fries and beer. They walked around, buying clothes and other necessities from market vendors that lined city center streets and mingled with people. A man stopped them and forced them to take a wooden bust of a woman’s face as a gift.

Liesenfeld couldn’t wait to go back. As soon as he turned 18, he began making annual pilgrimages to Jamaica and building relationships with friends like Peter.

What brings him back year after year is the people. “Nobody has nothing in Jamaica. It comes down to who you are as a person,” he says.

His love for Jamaica and its people blossomed into One Love Brigade, devoted to providing its youngest with bikes, for a little added childhood joy. He gathers bikes from all over the Twin Cities through word of mouth and searching classifieds ads. The donation schedule is in the months leading to Christmas, so kids have a little extra holiday cheer and parents can worry less about gifts and more about necessities. 

Liesenfeld’s love, One Love Brigade’s catalyst, extends beyond providing bikes. The organization, in its first trip in 2015, also brought equipment for drilling a well, as well as a wheelchair, among other things. The 2016 bike donation also came with 500 soccer balls. 

Now living in St. Anthony — as does his mother — Liesenfeld said his aim is to return to Jamaica, the land of the height of his youthful indiscretion, with an average of 300 bikes a year. 

For more information about One Love Brigade, visit


Solomon Gustavo can be reached at or 651-748-7815.

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