Have you ever seen a kid smile when he gets a new bike for his birthday? Have you ever heard a girl cheer when she pedals away for the first time? Take all of this times 254 and you can begin to imagine the sights and sounds of Bikes for Kids.
The annual event was held Saturday, November 17, at Parkway Central High School. This year, we were able to provide 212 standard bikes and 42 therapeutic bikes to kids and teens with disabilities. For some, this was their very first bike.
But this couldn't happen without our amazing supporters! A big thank you to Lucia Rosenbloom (who is also the Honorary Chair of this event), Chip and Kathleen Rosenbloom, the David B. Lichtenstein Foundation, Bunzl, the Steward Family Foundation and World Wide Technology!
Therapeutic bikes are adapted to the rider and his or her abilities, with special features such as higher seat backs, hand pedals, safety mechanisms and much more. This gives kids who have a difficult time riding standard bikes the chance to have a bike of their own. They are now able to join siblings and friends and enjoy time outside, building strength and confidence without even realizing it.
These bikes are produced by Creative Mobility, a team that fits each child in advance and builds a bike to meet his needs. The team is also on-hand at the event, making any adjustments needed as the kids and their families arrive. A handful of therapy volunteers from the area also came out to help Creative Mobility with this process.
For those who can ride a standard bike, we are able to provide Huffy bikes of all sizes. Hogan Transportation yet again helped us out by transporting these bikes all the way here from Georgia.
The bikes, however, arrive unassembled. That’s where our more than 100 volunteers from nine local organizations stepped in to build each bike the morning of the event. A big thank you to the volunteer teams from Bank of America, BKD, Bunzl, Edward Jones, Express Scripts, Legacy Pharmaceutical Packaging, the David B. Lichtenstein Foundation, Metal Exchange and Safety National! We are also grateful for the Trek “Safety Team” – they inspected every single bike after it was built to make sure it was ready to roll.
Before the kids could receive their bikes, however, it was important to make sure they were safe. This year, officers from St. Louis County Police Department stepped up to fit every child with the perfect helmet! Officers from the Chesterfield Police Department were also on-hand to provide coloring pages that featured important safety tips.
We’d also like to thank all of our volunteers who helped the event go off without a hitch. The UMSL Men’s and Women’s Tennis teams helped unload the bikes from the Hogan truck and get everything set up the night before. And therapists from Believe to Achieve Pediatric Therapy as well as a couple of Variety Women were all a huge help the day-of the event, doing everything from registration to cleanup. And thank you to Fox 2 News for coming out and promoting the event!
We really couldn’t have done this without any of these organizations or individuals. You all help make this event one of our favorite days of the year! We’re already looking forward to Bikes for Kids 2019!
If you’re looking for more event photos, you can find them on our Flickr page here. And stay tuned for more blogs in the coming weeks – we are going to catch up with some Variety families to see how these new bikes are helping Variety Kids around the area.