by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL
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.”
“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.
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”.