Bikes and Smiles were the order of the day at Wolverine Worldwide YMCA

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL

Toni Szczepanski, WWW
Family YMCA Volunteer and Community Outreach Coordinator, Kent County Sheriff Larry Stelma, and Amy Horn, Helen Devos Children’s Hospital Safe Kids Program Asst., standing in the foreground of a long line of bikes to be gifted to 29 area children. Photo by RICK KAMEL/YMCA

The Kent County Sheriff Department, in collaboration with the Wolverine Worldwide YMCA and Devos Children’s Hospital Safe Kids Coalition, conducted a bicycle give-a-way and safety event for 29 area children on Tuesday, August 28.

Making it all possible were 29 new or gently used bikes that had come into the possession of the Kent County Sheriff Department. Bikes needing repair were completely refurbished to safe operating conditions by Kent County Jail inmates. “The inmates take a great sense of pride and ownership by playing a part in this worthwhile program,” said Sheriff Larry Stelma who was on hand for the give-a-way event. “It’s a win-win for everyone involved today including the inmates.”

A thrilled Sienna Gorby, 8, proudly displays her “brand-new” pink and black bike. When she first saw the bike Sienna exclaimed unbelievably, “Is that really for me?!” Photo by CLIFF HILL

“The 29 children chosen to be recipients of the bikes had been identified by the Wolverine Worldwide YMCA as area kids who lack the financial means to afford a bicycle,” said Toni Szczepanski, Volunteer and Community Outreach Coordinator for the Rockford area YMCA.

Thrilled kids received an age appropriate bicycle that had been previously tagged for them, and them alone. Before they were allowed to test-drive their bikes around the parking lot, the kids had a sit-down bike safety lesson. After which, each was personally fitted with a brand-new bicycle helmet provided by Devos Children’s Hospital Safe Kids Coalition. Personally attending to that task was Amy Horn, the hospital’s Safe Kids Program Assistant.

With helmet in place, each kid on his new ride headed through a mock riding course, complete with orange cones, which had previously been set up by Sheriff Deputies.

WZZM TV13 cameraman Toni Love, who usually works behind the scenes, is front and center as he interviews Sheriff Stelma for the TV station’s evening newscast. (Love loves the Squire!) Photo by CLIFF HILL

Also on hand were two Deputies and their beautiful chestnut horses from the Kent County Sheriff’s Mounted Unit. For some of the kids (Sienna Gorby, 8, in particular) the horses were the highlight of the day.

“Today’s presentation was but one of many community service and outreach events provided by the Kent County Sheriff Department every year,” said Sheriff Stelma.

As the afternoon’s festivities drew to a close, the new bicycle owners loaded the bikes up to return home for many years of out-of-doors riding pleasure.

Enjoy kids, and to quote Roy Rogers (and Fred Meijer) “Happy trails to you”.

A long line of happy kids pose behind their age appropriate bikes. They can’t wait to jump on the saddle and start peddling their new rides. Photo by CLIFF HILL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As other bike recipients wait in line for their turn, Amy Horn, representing Helen Devos Children’s Hospital, fits Olivia Cole, 9, with a brand spanking new bike helmet. Photo by CLIFF HILL


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