Bike Giveaway Brings Holiday Cheer to Kids and Adults Alike

Third grade student Christopher Martinez was sporting a shiny new black bicycle, red helmet and bright smile. So was schoolmate Tyeron Washington. The boys, who attend Lilian J. Rice Elementary, were among 300 boys and girls to receive new bikes and helmets on December 14. The giveaway was thanks to the District’s partnership with the “Bikes for Kids Foundation,” a San Diego non-profit.

The bikes arrived recently in boxes. As she has since the program’s inception, Nancy Kerwin, the District’s Executive Director for Student, Family and Community Services, took on the task of getting the bikes assembled and distributed. On the afternoon before the giveaway, Kerwin oversaw an “assembly party” of dozens of volunteers that included district staff members, their families and some community members. Sure, there was the pizza, and soft drinks. But it was the spirit of giving that drew workers armed with wrenches and other tools. The 300 bikes were put together in a matter of hours.

The bikes were distributed the next day at the District’s Education Service and Support Center, with the help of employees who donated their time again.

“It’s a very special way to bring joy to our students,” Kerwin said. “For some children, the bicycle may be the only gift they receive for the holiday.”

With this year’s donation, the foundation has now provided more than 1,300 bicycles to District third-graders over the last five years.

For the last three years, the students who received the bikes were treated to a “Bike Rodeo” by the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition. The students learned proper riding techniques and safety tips. For some students, the Bike Rodeo was a way to learn to actually ride a bike. The Bicycle Coalition’s Randy Van Vleck patiently assisted those who were still wobbly on two wheels to gain balance and confidence as they maneuvered through an obstacle course set up in the parking lot of the ESSC.

Students were clearly appreciative. One thank you note read: “I am thankful for my bike because I never had a bike. All my life I wanted a bike. Thanks to you I got a bike.”

Wrote another student: “Thank you so very much. It is my new favorite bike ever. I wish I had come here before, my old one is not my type so I can’t ride and it is dangerous to everyone but my new one is not. I have wanted one so, so long but my wish came true.”

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