Photos courtesy of YMCA of Greater Long Beach.
122 third grade students at Stevenson Elementary received a free bike, helmet and lock thanks to local cycling club Velo Allegro.
Velo Allegro and the YMCA of Greater Long Beach partnered together to host a local “Bikes for Kids” event in an effort to promote cycling in Long Beach. Each third grader at Stevenson were given an opportunity to craft their best words in an essay contest that answered the question, “What can I do to make my community a better place and how would a new bicycle help me?”
On Monday, December 8, the 122 third graders, their teachers and their principal, David Zaid, gathered at an afternoon assembly to await the announcement of the essay contest winners. After all the winning essays were read and much to their surprise, bicycles were awarded to each third grade student at Stevenson.
President of Velo Allegro, Bill Pullano shared his message of why the club brought this community outreach project to Long Beach, “Our Club members don’t want to come together only to cycle. We want to be able to give back to the community and to encourage others to change the world close around them. This is very personal to us. It’s our hope that all of you kids will grow a passion for cycling and eventually join a club like Velo Allegro.”
Stevenson Elementary was selected as the beneficiary of the program based on the economic status of the community, knowing that gifting a bicycle could make a major difference to a family, especially during the holidays.
Alfredo Velasco, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Long Beach and member of Velo Allegro, shared at the event, “Today's event brought together my two passions, my 22-year YMCA career and my love of cycling. Stevenson Elementary is a YMCA academic enrichment site where over 100 kids each day benefit from the Y's before and after school care program. The Bikes for Kids program is a perfect match for this school.”
Velo Allegro’s 150 active club members and local businesses raised over $10,000 to purchase the bikes, helmets and locks. Members, families and friends built the bicycles over the weekend prior to the afternoon assembly. School administrators, with the assistance of club members, collected parent waivers to release the bikes to each third grader.
“Bikes for Kids” was founded by Bill and Debbie Pollakov of San Diego County. Mr. Pollakov is
a successful financial advisor who remembered how much he desired a bike when he was in third grade. He began this program to give back to the youth in his community the freedom and self-empowerment he felt while riding.