Owning a bike is a rite of passage for any child. Bikes give children the freedom and independence to explore the world, playing outside with friends and family and making memories that will last a lifetime. That’s why Variety hosts our annual Bikes for Kids event, when we provide bikes to local kids and teens with disabilities.
At this year’s event on November 16, 2019, we gave away 229 bikes to children and their families, including 188 standard bikes and 41 therapeutic bikes. Standard bikes are those you might find on a shelf at the store, while therapeutic bikes are adapted and built to fit each rider’s unique needs.
For many children, especially those who received therapeutic bikes, Bikes for Kids 2019 was the first time they rode a bike of their very own. The gigantic smiles on the faces of each child, and the happy tears in the eyes of each parent, said it all – being able to ride a bike is a thrilling feeling.
Lucia Rosenbloom, honorary chair, helped emcee the event and build bikes.
“I’ve been involved with Bikes for Kids since 2008 and this event is always one of my favorite days of the year,” Lucia says. “It brings me great joy to witness what can happen when members of a community band together to help those in need.”
And many people and organizations from our community certainly do join forces to help make this event happen! First, our amazing supporters: Lucia Rosenbloom, Chip and Kathleen Rosenbloom, the David B. Lichtenstein Foundation, Bunzl, the Steward Family Foundation and Worldwide Technology.
The standard Huffy bikes, which come in all sizes, arrive at the event unassembled, generously transported from Georgia by Hogan Transportation. The morning of the event, more than 100 volunteers team up to build each and every one of these bikes – thank you to Bank of America, BKD, Bunzl, Edward Jones, Enterprise Consulting, Express Scripts, Legacy Pharmaceutical Packaging, the David B. Lichtenstein Foundation, Metal Exchange and Safety National for sending fantastic volunteers!
Once the bikes are built, our friends at Trek form a “Safety Team” to inspect every single bike to make sure it is ready to ride.
And, before, during, and after the event, a slew of volunteers help make sure the experience is perfect for our families. The UMSL Men’s and Women’s Tennis Teams unload bikes from the Hogan truck and help put everything in place the night before. And Believe to Achieve therapists and members of Variety Women and Young Variety help with various tasks throughout the event.
Finally, we’d like to say thanks to Fox 2 Now and KPLR 11 for sharing our story (watch it online here), and to Reporter Chris Hayes for joining us as a guest emcee.
In all, it was an amazing and inspiring day, thanks to each and every one of these organizations and individuals. Thank you all for lending us your kind hearts and helping hands!
Looking for more event photos? Check them out on Flickr here! Stay tuned for more blogs in the coming weeks as we share stories of Variety Kids and their new bikes.