For many, a bicycle was a childhood staple. When you see a bike, or mount your own, you feel a touch of nostalgia wash through you. Maybe your bike had a basket on the front, streamers hanging from the handlebars, or a horn, allowing you to proclaim your happiness to the world. Perhaps you remember the pride you felt the first time you mastered riding without training wheels and the praise you received from your family. These memories flood you, all because of a bicycle.
While many children experience a bike ride through their neighborhood, there are many who never receive the chance. Bikes can be expensive, and are considered a luxury for some families. Free Bikes 4 Kidz, a non-profit organization in Madison, is working to change that by providing children in need with a bike.
Free Bikes 4 Kidz began with Terry Esau, who began the project in his Minnesota garage. Making it his mission to “help all kids ride into a happier, healthier childhood by providing bikes to those most in need,” Esau gave his community 250 bikes in 2008. From there, Free Bikes 4 Kidz continued to grow, becoming a philanthropic force among the community. With such high demand, the organization began to branch out, and Madison joined the movement. Now, Free Bikes 4 Kidz gives away over 5,000 bikes annually.
The method to the charitable madness is simple, according to the organization’s website. Every year, the United States sells 25 million bikes. Similarly, children outgrow 8 million bikes every year. Free Bikes 4 Kidz capitalizes on this trend, encouraging communities to donate the bikes that have been outgrown to children that are without one. Clearly, with the success of the organization, families have responded well to this request.
RISE was recently the beneficiary of a donation from Free Bikes 4 Kidz, thanks to the efforts of RISE Lead Family Support Specialist for the Early Childhood Initiative Program, Carrie Tourek, and Baltazar de Anda Santana, of Free Bikes 4 Kidz in Madison. Once the need was communicated, Baltazar and his team provided RISE with 75 bikes, brand new helmets, training wheels, and neon t-shirts for safety.
Children participating in RISE’s Parent-Child Home Program will be the primary recipients of the donated bicycles. Tourek, who coordinated the donation, shared her thoughts on the project, “We all know how it feels to get on a bike and ride, and to be able to provide that opportunity to 75 children in RISE programs is pretty awesome. Our families are often cooped up all winter and have a hard time finding things for their little ones to do outside once the weather is nice. These bikes could be what gets a family outside to enjoy fresh air together when they otherwise might not have. Also, huge shout out to Free Bikes 4 Kidz for providing helmets, training wheels, and brightly colored t-shirts to promote safety while bike riding, too!”
Those interested in donating to Free Bikes 4 Kidz can find more information on the organization’s website (fb4kmadison.org).