In honor of National Bike Month, we’re spotlighting how bicycles are tools for personal empowerment, social justice and community development with our “Where the Ride Takes Us” web series. Today’s post comes from Mark Smith, co-founder of Bikes for Goodness Sake.
Do you remember that feeling as a kid when you got your first bike?
A close second to that feeling is giving a good kid his first great bike.
On July 4, 2008, Bikes for Goodness Sake hosted its inaugural event, giving 50 bike shop quality bikes to children of deploying soldiers in Austin, Texas. The highlight for me: The expression on the children’s faces when they approached their bike. It was heartwarming.
At that event the commanding officer, Lt. Col. Michael Dietz, said these touching words to all present: “I can walk down the street and, by virtue of my uniform, I’m acknowledged for my sacrifice to this great country. However, our soldiers’ children go unrecognized and sacrifice in silence. It’s rare and indeed humbling when someone honors the sacrifice of your families. And for that I am grateful for Bikes for Goodness Sake.”
The tears of solace and gratitude began to flow from both the volunteers and the parents of the children.
Since that event Bikes for Goodness Sake has been asked by scores of companies to facilitate bike build events for charitable purposes. We use only bike-shop-quality bikes sourced through our special relationship with Raleigh Bicycles. At the event, we have bike mechanics from the local Raleigh dealer to ensure all is safe for the kiddos.
The events range from a basic bike builds to fun team building events. Recipient children are identified from local charitable organizations that the company has a heart for. Bike-build teams not only build the bikes, they also make poster-size personalized cards for the children receiving the bikes.
The most amazing and gratifying part of these events are during the picture taking ceremony at the end. We surprise the bike builders by having the children rush into the room looking for their card and bike. A personal connection is made — and again tears begin to flow.
It’s one thing to donate your time and treasure to a good cause, but it’s a whole other matter when you have the opportunity to make a real and personal connection. It is never forgotten. When you can share the freedom and the joy that only a bike can deliver with a child, then you have impacted the world for goodness sake.
Learn more about Bikes for Goodness Sake here.
Ms. Murphy joined the League in January 2013. She previously worked as a reporter covering the Justice Department. Liz has journalism and women’s studies degrees from Penn State University. She commutes to work on her bright red bike daily.
via Bikeleague.org Blog http://blog.bikeleague.org/blog/2013/05/where-the-ride-takes-us-giving-joy-to-those-who-sacrifice-in-silence/