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'This is such an amazing day': Unifor Local 444 celebrates 20 years of Bikes for Kids

Nearly 100 students are ready to ride into summer break with a new bike, thanks to Unifor Local 444 and its annual ‘Bikes for Kids’ event.

The union’s Community Services Committee celebrated 20 years of donating refurbished used bicycles to local students with deliveries to Westgate School and Assumption Middle School on Monday.

“Each year we collect donated bikes,” said Executive Board Member, Frank Harshaw. “We spent some time, a couple of months fixing the bikes up and then we find a couple schools that have kids that are in need of bikes or have maybe never had a bike before and we go to schools and distribute them.”

Harshaw said about 2,000 bikes have been given away over the years and that the whole local gets involved.

“It's great seeing a kid ride a bike for the first time and kids that never had a bike and he's got one of our bikes,” he said.

The 20th annual 'Bikes for Kids' event was held in Windsor-Essex on June 26, 2023. (Chris Campbell/CTV News Windsor)

The Brain Injury Association of Windsor and Essex County was also on hand with 100 donated bicycle helmets, while assisting students and sharing safety tips.

“It’s the most amazing thing the freedom, the fun, the exercise, everything,” said Executive Director, Anna Jurak. “We're happy to be part of it and providing helmets to these children who probably otherwise wouldn't have them.”

Jurak explained the association would be at similar events throughout the summer, suggesting it’s not a pretty sight when someone gets injured without a helmet on.

“This not just getting the helmet. You know if it's too big, it's not good, and sometimes I've had parents say, ‘Give me one a couple sizes bigger so they'll have it for a few years.’ Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that,” said Jurak. “It has to be snug at the time they're wearing it and the strap has to be on correctly so we’re going to be showing the children all of that.”

Grade eight Assumption Middle School student Angelo Lucier added, “I have one at home that just broke recently so I really, really needed a new one, and I'm so glad that I got this opportunity to take advantage of this wonderful thing.”

Classmate Geraid Ajayi said, “This is very exciting for me because I used to have a bike but I kind of lost it. So having a new bike is nice and fun and stuff and it’s really helpful and I’m really thankful!”

“This is such an amazing day! The kids were so excited. They've been asking for weeks ‘When are the bikes are coming?'” said Vice Principal Janet Gursoy. “Just seeing all the smiles today that it's just incredible.”

The 20th annual 'Bikes for Kids' event was held in Windsor-Essex on June 26, 2023. (Chris Campbell/CTV News Windsor)Gursoy told CTV News Windsor the bikes mean a lot to students.

“It's everything. For our kids that's getting around. That's going to see friends. That's getting to school in the morning. Some of our kids have pretty lengthy walks and this is really going to make it a lot easier for them to get around and get them to friends through the summer months,” she said.

Gursoy added that they have many students who wouldn’t be able to have a bike were it not for this type of event, and said it is “incredible” for the kids.

“Today, to see these kids rushing in and looking for their name tag, it's like Christmas morning,” added Unifor Local President Dave Cassidy. Top Stories


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