Kids get new bikes from FB4KJan 03, 2022 04:04PM ● By Bill Hardesty
FB4K volunteers help kids find the perfect bike. (Bill Hardesty/City Journals)
A bicycle gives a child his or her first feeling of freedom. A bicycle is their first set of wheels. A bicycle is a means to explore their world, pedal to friends’ homes and to school and to enjoy just being a kid.
"Every kid deserves a bike," Nick Ekdahl, the president of FB4K Utah, said. And with that in mind, folks from FB4K (Free Bikes for Kidz) spent Dec. 4 giving away 160 bicycles to eager young bicyclists. The event was a culmination of three months of collecting, repairing and organizing bikes.
Working with agencies such as Promise South Salt Lake, Circles Salt Lake, and Hartland Community 4 Youth and Families, recipients' names were collected. They also collaborated with middle schools. However, they do not work directly with families.
The young recipients and family members came to their current warehouse (2250 S. Main) to find their bike of choice. Dakota Pacific donated the warehouse.
By 10 a.m. a line had formed, and the 30 FB4K volunteers worked quickly to accommodate each child. Finally, their name was checked on the list, and the child was given a name tag.
The kids moved to the helmet line to receive a new bike helmet. Robert J. DeBry and Associates donated some helmets. However, most were purchased with donated funds.
The kids headed to the show floor with their helmets in hand or on their heads. Volunteers welcomed each child as if they were buying a new car. First, the volunteer led the family to the area with the correct size of bikes. Then, just like a salesperson, volunteers suggested red ones or blue ones. Bikes with baskets. Bikes that roared like the Hulk.
"We focus our attention on the kids. We want to treat them very special," Ekdahl said.
Once the child selected their bike, they moved to the mechanic shop. Each bike was given a final check. Mechanics also explained how to use items like hand brakes and gears.
A final step was to take the bike out for a spin around the parking lot.
"It is pretty cool that people are willing to donate bikes for people who don't have one," Lyal Holder said.
While sitting on his bike, his son yelled out, "I am going to ride this to school on Monday."
"Bikes are important—the feeling of freedom. The feeling of air through your hair," Ekdahl said. "For many of these kids, this is the first thing they own. It is their bike."
FB4K is an affiliate of the national FB4K organization. The nonprofit started in Minneapolis and currently has 15 locations across the United States. Their goal is to give over a million bikes by 2025 and be in 110 locations.
FB4K Utah collects bikes in September and October and gives them away in December. Bikes can be donated directly to FB4K or at Guthrie Bicycle Company in the fall. They also want to scale up to provide more bikes and collect bikes year round.