Community Steps Up to Restore Bike Rodeos after Not-So-Grand Theft

United Way’s Bike Rodeos will roll again in 2019, thanks to more than $6,400 in donations from our generous community. At Bike Rodeos, children from across Central Alabama are able to learn bike safety in a fun, controlled environment directed by program staff and volunteers. The popular traveling program, which is part of our Healthy Communities initiative, came to a screeching halt last summer, however, when the trailer containing more than 30 bikes and helmets used for instruction was stolen. And it’s hard to have a bike rodeo…without bikes.

“It is really challenging to not be able to give that hands-on experience,” said Julie Cole Farmer of Children’s of Alabama. “We do some things in the classroom, but it’s just not the same. It’s different for students to feel a helmet on their heads than to have me tell them how a helmet should fit.”

According to Kristin Booker, the Principal of Hemphill Elementary School, the Bike Rodeo program provides her students with life-changing information.

“It saves lives,” she told CBS42 News. “Students aren’t aware of the trauma that can happen to their heads if they don’t protect them when they’re riding their bikes, so the knowledge base that they learn from this program really changes a lot of their lives.”

Luckily, the program, which Booker said is a favorite among her students, will be able to return for the 2019-2020 school year. A short two-week fundraiser in April aimed to raise $5,500 to help replace the stolen goods. More than 75 generous donors not only met that goal but exceeded it by more than $900. Among those donors was Ignite Cycle, Birmingham’s first and only boutique cycle studio, which held a fundraising ride on April 30th to support the effort, and Children’s of Alabama, a United Way of Central Alabama partner agency that works closely with the Bike Rodeo program, which donated $1,000 to the cause. And not all donations were monetary—Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama contributed 17 bicycles and helmets, or about half of the number needed.

The success of the Bike Rodeo fundraising campaign is a shining example of United Way of Central Alabama’s mission, which is “to increase the organized capacity of people to care for one another and to improve their community.” We work with the community, for the community, and could not do what we do without your support.

Thank you to all who stepped up to ensure that more children will have the chance to experience the joy and freedom of riding a bike…safely.