Last Saturday in downtown San Jose, many (MANY) volunteers got together for the annual TurningWheels for Kids Big Bike Build.
If you're not familiar with TurningWheels for Kids, it is an organization born from the mind of Susan Runsvold, a nurse at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. She wanted to make sure that every child had the opportunity to receive a cool, exciting gift at Christmas - an experience she wasn't always sure she'd have as a child growing up. She came to the realization that receiving a bike all your own, a brand new one, is one of those memories every child should have the opportunity to have.
You can read more about the history of TurningWheels, but the bottom line - their mission, is to continue to provide underprivileged children with bicycles year-round. So each year just before Christmas, volunteers and groups from all over the South Bay come together and assemble donated bikes.
At my previous job, I had the privilege to work with Sue and her team on promoting TWFK. I absolutely love what they do so I wanted to make sure to stop by the Big Bike Build to take some photos and see everyone. It's such an amazing scene! It's like watching a bunch of elves getting the toys ready for Santa!
Some facts from this year's work:
- 2,650 bikes were built on Saturday (plus 493 a week before in Livermore)
- Distributed over 300 bikes this year to two pediatric clinics
- 2012 has had the highest distribution yet - 3,443 bikes!
- TWFK provides bikes to organizations for distribution such as: City Team, EMQ, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, Bay Area Rescue Mission, Richmond Fire Department, Santa Cruz County sheriffs, Sacred Heart and many others!
The last few years, in the middle of the build, CEOs and local celebrities and supporters make their way to the main stage to participate in the Great Trike Race! They hop on adult-sized tricycles and race around a track in the middle of the convention center. It's great fun to watch and no doubt, fun to race! You need to watch out for Sharkie though, he's a sneaky one!
|Sharkie and Valley Medical Center Foundation's Executive Director, Chris Wilder make the first turn during the Great Trike Race!|
This year's winner was Barry Arata, a local fireman who won the title in 2010 but lost it to Josh Thomson of Strikeforce in 2011.
Many thanks to this year's title sponsor, DPR, for their generous donation of $60,000! Other wonderful sponsors like the Monterey Peninsula Foundation, Cisco, Therma and many more helped support TurningWheels for Kids.
If TurningWheels for Kids sounds interesting to you, they could use your help. This year, 4,700 bikes were requested (via organizations, groups, etc) but there were only 2,600+ to give. Donations are how they're able to purchase bikes and helmets for the kids. If you'd like to read more, please check out their website and their 'What You Do Matters' Campaign for more information.
~ Jennifer Bullock OwYoung
~ Jennifer Bullock OwYoung