DUBUQUE, Iowa — For kids, a bicycle is a sign of freedom and independence, but not all of them can obtain one.
One organization in Eastern Iowa changed that this morning for over 100 kids.
The Eastern Iowa Variety Children’s Charity handed out brand new bikes and helmets this morning at their bike giveaway event.
“It gives them the ownership and the accountability of keeping and cleaning their bike, storing it properly, and abiding by all safety rules,” executive director Keeley Smith said.
These safety rules include wearing a helmet, which kids signed a pledge to honor before they rode their bikes out of Comiskey Park in Dubuque.
“They don’t wear their helmets because their parents can’t afford them,” Michelle Hastings, a mother of a kid at the event, said. “They ride out in front of cars.”
But Variety’s staff makes it their mission to help these children who may need a little help here and there. All they had to do was write a short essay on what they love about bicycles.
“There’s not really a child we don’t award a bike to because it’s one of the most fulfilling things we do,” Smith said.
Now a parent like Michelle Hastings and their kids don’t have to worry. Her daughter can pedal away for the rest of summer.
“I will go around my block like ten times because I haven’t been using my bike a lot because I kind of can’t bring it back and forth because it has a flat tire, so I’m glad I got this bike so I can leave this at my house,” Emma Hastings, her daughter, said.
For other kids, it’s also a chance to pick up a new skill to make this summer memorable.
“A kid wasn’t able to ride their bike when they got here, but then they take off down the street and that’s a pretty cool fact to see,” Smith said.
Variety Children’s Charity plans to give away around 500 bikes this summer, and their next event is in Cedar Rapids.