A Reedsburg family took it upon themselves to deliver more than 50 bikes to those in need after the Summer Outdoor Adventure Club’s after school bike program’s trip to deliver the bikes was cancelled due to COVID-19.
The after school bike program, which happens at Pineview Elementary School, normally takes an annual trip to deliver repaired bikes to those in need. This year the group planned to travel to Ysleta Lutheran Mission in El Paso, Texas, which helps underprivileged children in the area and in Juarez, Mexico, but the trip was cancelled due to coronavirus concerns.
When the trip was cancelled, Gary Williams, who is in charge of the program, said the Hyzer family reached out with an offer to deliver the bikes. April Hyzer, a Reedsburg resident, planned to visit her sister in Houston in July, around the same time the trip was supposed to happen, and decided to deliver the bikes while in Texas.
Williams said the program also sent more than 70 bikes earlier in the year across the Mexican border. However, those bikes will mainly go to families in need in the El Paso, Texas area due to issues getting items across the border due to COVID-19, Williams said.
While the visit with her sister ended up getting cancelled, the trip still went on as planned. Hyzer, along with her husband Arthur, decided to load up a trailer with the 55 bikes and have their seven children in tow for the 30-hour trip from Reedsburg to El Paso to deliver the bikes to the mission. Another Reedsburg resident, Rob Fullmer an employee of Pacific Cycle in Madison, donated 55 helmets to go along with the bikes.
Hyzer said she knows Williams through school and has taken her children on class field trips. The family even purchased bikes through the bike program for their children to use. Because the program helped provide bikes for the family, Hyzer said she thought driving down to Texas to deliver the bikes would be a way to give back and help others.
“It seemed really nice to help other people’s kids get bikes,” Hyzer said.
Williams said he was thrilled the family decided to take the bikes down to Texas.
“It was great,” he said. “It was awesome.”
When the family arrived in El Paso, Hyzer said the family dropped the bikes off at a trailer to disperse to families in need, both children and adults. Hyzer said the family stayed at the mission in Texas, getting to know the people and helping with other projects during their three-day stay.
“It was really cool,” Hyzer said of the experience.
The Summer Outdoor Adventure Club’s bike program is for those finishing fourth grade and older to fix a bike for themselves but also participants have a chance to repair a bike to give away to someone else. Usually about 100 students are in the program, Williams said.
Williams said the program gives children a chance to “feel empowered” as another way to learn skills such as problem solving and team work through repairing a bike. It also provides an awareness opportunity about the importance of giving back.
“It makes them aware of other people because bikes are so important to our kids,” Williams said.
All 55 bikes were fixed by the participating children in the program last school year and earlier in the year, before school shut down due to COVID-19. In the past, the program delivered fixed bikes to refugee settlement camps in places like Michigan and Milwaukee. Some bikes were even delivered internationally to places like the Dominican Republic, Williams said.
When school shut down in March due to the coronavirus, the bike program also ceased for a while. Williams said the bike shop has been put on hold until at least the first of the year due to the coronavirus.
“Some of the kids were still working on bikes for themselves and they didn’t get to finish them,” Williams said.
Hyzer is grateful to live in a community that not only recognizes the need to help its own residents, but also the ability to reach out to other places far from Reedsburg to provide assistance.
“I just felt like we are just really blessed to live in an area that not only we help our own (people) but we have enough to give other communities as well,” Hyzer said.
Follow Erica Dynes on Twitter @EDynes_CapNews or contact her at 608-393-5346.