A record-breaking 450 bicycles were given to Fridley Public Schools families at the third annual Free Bikes for Kids event, hosted at R.L. Stevenson Elementary on April 13. Each child and adult was fitted for a helmet and matched with a bike in the gymnasium, then headed to the cafeteria which served as a bike mechanic shop for the day.
The event, organized by Allina Health, is held in partnership with two nonprofits: Free Bikes 4 Kidz and Bikes 4 Kids. This year, the organizations held nine bike giveaway events across the metro area, with three additional events to be held this spring and early summer.
Every fall, Allina holds a community bike collection to gather gently used bikes. With thousands of bikes donated, volunteers from FB4K and Bikes 4 Kids clean and repair the collected bikes to ensure that all bikes are in top riding condition. At the Stevenson event, Bikes 4 Kids volunteer mechanics helped to make last-minute adjustments to the bikes and tailored the fit to the needs of their new owners. Students also had the opportunity to write “thank you” notes to the volunteers and organizations at the end of the event.
Bicycles of all sizes were given away, from tricycles to mountain bikes. Bikes 4 Kids Executive Director Al Sannerud said his organization aims to serve entire households – providing bikes for the whole family.
“It makes us feel good when we can help entire families,” said Sannerud. “Our volunteers work year-round to make this happen for community members.”
According to Craig Malm, Allina director of community engagement, proactive and preventative care is part of Allina’s mission. “We always want to promote healthy habits and holistic health, and for kids, what better way to encourage exercise than to provide a bicycle to everyone who wants one,” said Malm.
Malm added that Fridley Public Schools is one of his favorite districts to work with, as there is never a shortage of staff volunteers and positive spirit.
Superintendent Dr. Kim Hiel was also on hand to help families pick out the perfect bike. Hiel said it is these types of collaborations that are essential to serving the entire Fridley community.
“It’s so exciting that we are able to help out all ages, as well as promote health and wellness,” she said. “It’s all about working together and giving back to each other. My heart is full with how we’re helping our community today.”