GENEVA — Volunteers with Connect Geneva, a website partnership with the city providing COVID-19 information to residents, said they were brainstorming safe socially distanced family activities when the popularity of biking entered the discussion.
The stumbling block, however, was that not every family can afford decent bicycles for themselves or their kids.
So began a fast-paced collaboration with a downtown business, the city, two local charitable organizations and local bike mechanics — to the delight of nearly 80 kids who have — or will soon be in — possession of their own wheels, according to Connect Geneva.
Connect Geneva distributed 42 bikes at the Geneva Rec Center over the past weekend to preregistered kids who needed them. Another 40 bikes are being prepared for distribution to the community at large Wednesday, July 1 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Rec Center, 666 Exchange St.
The Geneva Bicycle Center donated the majority of gently used bikes and provided the mechanic skills to get them road ready. “We collect gently used bicycles year-round,” said Jim Hogan, owner of the local shop. “Typically, we would donate these to a charity partner in March. COVID-19 put a halt to that, so we were happy to be able to distribute these locally.”
Connect Geneva said Chuck McCadd, a relative newcomer to Geneva, donated over 20 hours to tuneups, replacing tubes, fixing chains and straightening bent kickstands in preparation for the giveaways. The Recreation Center stepped up to host the events.
“At that point, what was most missing were bike helmets,” said Jeff Henderson, a Connect Geneva organizer. “We wanted to be sure these cyclists had all they needed to be riding safely.”
That’s where the Geneva Benevolent Police Association and Geneva Community Projects stepped in. Each organization donated $500 for helmets, which will be ordered for the new bikers.
While the first wave of giveaways took place last weekend to preregistered families, Wednesday’s event is open to the public. Individuals who would like to donate or trade gently used bicycles are invited to drop them off at the same time. Donated bikes will receive a mechanic check to ensure their road-readiness before being distributed.