Local

May 30, 2014

Mini Thunderbolts build bikes

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Senior Airman GRACE LEE
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Alicia Ramirez, Build-A-Bike volunteer, helps Destinee Harris, 9, daughter of Tech. Sgt. Thomas Harris, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron electric shop NCO-in-charge, put pedals on her bike May 17 at Fowler Park on Luke Air Force Base. A sponsor supplied the materials needed to build the bike, in addition to the bike locks and helmets.

It’s an exciting moment, seeing children’s faces full of joy and anticipation as they wait to start building a new bicycle.

In celebration of Armed Forces Day, Build-A-Bike volunteers and their partners built and gave bikes to 30 children of Luke Air Force Base Thunderbolts May 17 at Fowler Park.

“Build-A-Bike is a program that the Golden State Foods Foundation created to help kids, who are in need,” said Mary Hofstetter, GSF Phoenix Foundation chairman. “Today, it’s about helping kids, whose parents are currently serving in our military and possibly deployed.”

Build-A-Bike volunteers paired with young Thunderbolts between ages 6 and 9 to help them not only build their own bikes but teach them how to use a bike lock, properly wear a helmet, and ensure the bike was assembled properly and safe to ride. Afterward, children had a chance to ride their new bikes around the park.

“Seeing my daughter, Destinee, enjoy herself and being around kids who may be going through what she’s going through with her dad being gone, is the greatest joy for me,” said Shawana Harris spouse of Tech. Sgt. Thomas Harris, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron electric shop NCO-in-charge. “I think what the Build-A-Bike program provides is wonderful, and it’s positive for the kids.”

Kaitlyn Sutton, 9, daughter of Tech. Sgt. Stanley Sutton, 56th Logistics Readiness Squadron quality assurance evaluator, watches as Jeremiah Sheppard, Build-A-Bike volunteer, shows her how to use a bike lock at the event. Volunteers worked one-on-one with the children to help them build their first bicycle.

Many may see a bike as merely a mode of transportation but Build-A-Bike program volunteers see it differently, said Gary Ferrari GSF Build-A-Bike event planner.

“They see it as a way to instill in children invaluable life lessons that will help build personal character, self-awareness and a sense of responsibility,” he said.

If a child has a bike, it helps establish their sense of adventure and self-reliance, and it helps build character, Hofstetter said.

“It’s important to build a child’s character so he or she can grow up to be a good person,” he said.

Having the opportunity to present bikes to kids at no cost wouldn’t be possible without the help of Build-A-Bike partner, Pacific Cycle, that not only supplied the materials needed to build the bikes, but also provided the helmets and locks,” Hofstetter said.

“This is our second annual National Build-A-Bike event and today’s turnout was a success,” he said. “We had thirty bikes to give away and all the kids showed up and left with a bike.”
 

Quentin Salisbury, 7, son of Lt. Col. David Salisbury, 944th Operations Group commander, sits on his bike for the first time as a Build-A-Bike volunteer tightens screws and makes adjustments.




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