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Meet Will Jeffries, Burlington’s mobile hype-man

UVM student bikes for smiles during pandemic
Updated: May. 9, 2021 at 10:09 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - At some point during the pandemic, we all could have used a bit of a pick me up. But one UVM student figured out a way to get outside while getting others to smile.

You might have seen Will Jeffries around town. Even with his bright smile under a mask, he’s hard to miss.

He began biking around town last spring after a getting a bike from a friend.

“I started riding around town a lot just to be able to get outside of those four walls,” Jeffries explained.

Though he was happy to be out and about, he says he missed the connection with people.

“The same friend who had given me the bike, she suggested ‘why don’t you put a sign on your bike?’ And I tried it,” Jeffries said.

That’s how it all got started.

“It was amazingly uplifting for me and it was a way of interacting with other people, and it felt like it found that spark of life in the world again,” he said.

Jeffries rides all year, warm or cold, keeping his mission in mind and playing uplifting tunes through a speaker on his bike.

“I love the Old North End, exploring South Burlington a little bit, but mostly around the downtown areas,” Jeffries said.

He’s got a few signs, from the one reading “You Got This” when we went for a ride, to others calling for social justice across America.

We asked where he gets the ideas for his signs.

“Whatever comes to me,” Jeffries said. “I’ve got several at this point actually, and this was the first one that I made. And its ended up feeling like this is the one that people resonate with the most.”

People do resonate -- from endless thumbs up and waves from strangers, to others returning the favor.

“I had come down to City Hardware and I was just inside for a couple of minutes but when I came out, someone had left 2 bouquets of flowers on my bike and that was really amazing. I actually posted on Facebook and connected with the person who left the flowers,” he recalled.

Even as things begin to open up, masks come off, and socialization is no longer distant, Jeffries says he intends to keep it up.

“I really love engaging with people and seeing people get excited or even just a little bit happier, a smile, a thumbs up, and I don’t see why we don’t need more of that in the world all the time,” he said.

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