By Lou Melini
Debbie Reid is the Founder and Director of Bikes for Kids Utah. Currently Debbie works for Recovery Ways, a Residential Treatment center for drug and alcohol abuse in Murray, UT. She has also worked in the event planning industry for several years creating corporate events and international incentive based trips. In her free time, Debbie enjoys cycling, reading, traveling and a good meal with friends.
Cycling Utah: Debbie, Tell me how Bikes For Kids Utah got started?
Debbie Reid: Bikes for Kids Utah is a local organization that began in 2005 with a dream I had to provide disadvantage children in Utah the opportunity to get a new bike with safety equipment and an education about riding a bike safely to school and around neighborhoods. I gathered some of my friends and acquaintances that had an interest in the wellbeing of children and/or in interest in cycling. We grew to an active board of about 15 people. In 2006 we had our first event, we gave away 1,000 brand new bikes, helmets, t-shirts and bike locks to Utah kids and we had a bike ride as a fundraiser. Our first couple of years we had our events in October and Dave Zabriskie participated in the events.
C.U. What is the main focus of Bikes for Kids?
D.R.: The main focus of the organization is to provide disadvantaged children with a positive education and effective life-skills learned through owning and riding a bicycle. To do so they are instructed in bicycle safety, the importance of obeying traffic signals, and wearing helmets. They are also encouraged and taught the importance of regular exercise and how riding a bicycle can provide that. A bicycle also offers them an alternative means of transportation that can help them feel more confident and self-reliant.
C.U.: Who receives the bikes and donations? How many bikes have been given away? How do you measure your success?
The pre-selected children are generally from the Boys & Girls Clubs in the Salt Lake Valley, the Guadalupe Schools, and Title One Schools. We support the Murray Rotary Foundation to help with bicycle lane improvements. Any unclaimed bikes are donated to various local children’s charities
This year at our Bike Giveaway on May 21st, Bikes for Kids Utah will give out the 6,000th bike. What we see after our May event around the Salt Lake Valley is a greater number of kids on the Bikes for Kids bikes and wearing their helmets. I often hear back from volunteers and participants at our events that they saw some kids out riding their Bikes for Kids bikes. It generates a sense of pride with all involved to know that they have some part in assisting these kids to become active and get on a bike.
C.U. Bikes For Kids had an annual century bike ride in May, but I understand that there is going to be a change this year.
D.R.: One thing about the Bikes for Kids Utah Organization is that we are always evolving and our focus is on what is best for the kids. Our first major change was when we moved from October to May. That change allowed us to get the bikes to the kids when the warm weather is just beginning and the kids now have all summer to ride their bikes.
This year we have another big change. We are no longer having a century bike ride. We made this change for several reasons, there are several new century rides on the calendar since we began Bikes for Kids Utah, and working to find a date on the calendar that does not compete with another major athletic event in May has become increasingly difficult. Some of the most popular centuries in Utah are in low traffic, scenic areas of this beautiful state. Because we need to be in a central location for easy access for the kids to come our event we really unable to move our bike ride. We always worked hard to have the best rest stops and support for our ride to make up for the scenery. In the end, we decided we were spending too much time, energy and money on creating a great ride. Our focus for our May event will be fundraising and the bike giveaway.
In August we will have our second, two-day, three event stage race. This event is sanctioned by the UCA & USA Cycling and will be located in the Salt Lake Valley. A criterium will be on Friday afternoon August 5th, the time trial on Saturday morning August 6th and the road race following in the afternoon. All of the proceeds from these events will benefit Bikes for Kids Utah. The race is sponsored by Bikes for Kids Utah, Revolution Racing and Blackbottoms Cyclewear. On Friday night there will be an open kids rides and we hope to have several of our Bikes for Kids recipients participate in this event.
C.U.: What other ways can cyclists and others get involved in Bike for Kids?
D.R.: In September we have a dinner and auction. This is a great evening with good food, friend and lot's of great stuff! We are always looking for volunteers, cash donations to purchase the bike, helmets, locks etc, and donation for our auction in September. Attending our dinner is a great way to get introduced to the Bikes for Kids Board Members and our cause. We have many people who attend the dinner and call us to become more involved. Bikesforkidsutah.com is our website.
C.U.: In addition to Debbie, board members of Bikes for Kids Utah include Glenn Perry, Sharyle Karren, Stanford “Chip” Smith, Todd Reid, Sherry Wasden, Chelsea Malouf, John Karren Jay Elggren, Kristi Guest and James Kimball.