The sound of ratchets and screws joining together created a chorus of Christmas cheer. A group of 1,000 volunteers gathered together at Amalie Arena in Tampa to assemble over 800 bicycles for needy children.
“The fact that we’re able to pull off an event that big and have over 1,000 volunteers on a Wednesday, there’s not a way to really comprehend it,” said OnBikes' Julius Tobin. “The first year we had like 100 bikes.”
Tobin’s goal is “getting kids their first bike” and started seven years ago in his garage. He and a friend helped build a few bikes that year and never expected their dream of helping kids in their community would grow to what it has become.
“That impact is pretty substantial. It blows my mind and fills my heart for sure,” said Brandy, who was excited to get out and make a difference in her community.
Volunteers built donated bicycles in three different shifts. The bikes will be distributed to organizations around Tampa Bay who will then hand them out to kids in need. Some of the bikes will go to Metropolitan Ministries, the Tampa Police Department and Children’s Cancer Center.
“I really probably can’t find enough words to commend his efforts,” Children’s Cancer Center CEO Patty O’Leary said of Tobin. Her kids will receive 100 bikes from OnBikes to hand out this Christmas.
“You always remember your first bike,” said Devin Kennedy, who drove from Orlando to build bikes. “I still remember mine.”
The bike build is just the first part of the generosity puzzle. OnBikes will host its annual fundraiser on December 9 to raise money to pay for more bikes this and next year. Their Winter Wonder Ride will take place on Bayshore Blvd. Tickets are still available.
The bike build was held at Amalie Arena. OnBikes will eclipse the 5,000 bikes-donated mark at the close of 2017.
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