If you can picture nearly 200 kids and teens celebrating their birthdays at one time, you might be able to imagine the excitement of our annual Bikes for Kids event.
The energy reaches its peak as these families are paraded into the gym, led by Parkway Central cheerleaders and Louie, the St. Louis Blues’ mascot, and see their shiny new bikes for the very first time. Cheers of delight come from each child as they climb up on their very own bicycle, smiles beaming from ear to ear. For some of these kids, this is their first bike, making this moment even sweeter.
We are thrilled that we are able to provide these moments to these families. But we couldn’t do it without the help of our many volunteers, sponsors and partners.
This year, 43 therapeutic bikes were given away to St. Louis-area children with special needs. Therapeutic bikes are built specifically for each child and his or her needs, and often include adapted pedals, higher seat backs, safety straps, pushing mechanisms and more. Creative Mobility, the team that fits each child and builds the bikes accordingly, was on-hand to make any adjustments necessary. In addition, a handful of therapy volunteers from the area came out to help Creative Mobility whenever needed.
Not only that, but a total of 153 standard bikes were given away as well. These are Huffy bikes, and Hogan Transportation helped us out by transporting them all the way from the headquarters in California. And, because the bikes arrive unassembled, close to 100 volunteers joined us to build the bikes the morning of the event. Our amazing volunteer teams included those from Bank of America, BKD, Bunzl, Edward Jones, Fox 2/KPLR, Legacy Pharmaceutical Packaging, the Lichtenstein Foundation and Safety National. Our "Safety Team" from Trek was also a huge help - they inspected each bike after it was built.And, of course, it is important to keep our kids safe. Dr. Cangas and Helmets First! graciously donated most of the helmets provided to each child that received a bike on Saturday.
We’d also like to give a shout-out to Young Variety, some of whom helped set up the event on Friday evening, and John Pertzborn, our fabulous guest emcee from Fox 2. Also, thank you to Parkway Central, as well as Parkway Central employees and cheerleaders, for being great hosts.
Finally, this event would not be possible without our fantastic sponsors, the David B. Lichtenstein Foundation, Bunzl, World Wide Technology and the Steward Family Foundation. Recognition is also due to Lucia Rosenbloom and Chip Rosenbloom, siblings who helped start this event, along with their mother, more than 20 years ago.
Thank you to each and every one of you who helped make Bikes for Kids 2017 a success. There really are no words to describe our gratitude – because of you, Variety is able to provide children not only with bikes, but also with self-esteem, independence and, of course, a whole lot of fun!