December 12, 2016
More than 400 bikes from CYCLE Houston were transported to Owens ES on Dec. 10 in a Coca-Cola truck. Pictured are only 38 of the approximate 75 volunteers that showed up to help give bikes to K-3 Owens students who met their reading goals.
Dec. 12, 2016 – Students in grades K-3, along with their parents, arrived on campus Saturday morning at Owens ES with big smiles as they walked confidently through the front door to receive a free bike.
From a warm greeting at the front door by volunteers to being fitted with a helmet and from picking out the perfect bike to having the seat adjusted, each student walked out the back door and met their parents with a new bike that was given to them by the non-profit organization CYCLE Houston.
CITGO representatives volunteered on Dec. 10 by making sure Owens students received bike helmets that fit them perfectly.
“It was so heartwarming to see so many excited children and parents,” said principal Amy Frank. “It was truly a magical day at Owens.”
CYCLE, Changing Young Children’s Lives through Education, is a 501(c)(3) children’s charity that rewards students with new bicycles for achieving better academic performance in the classroom. The mission statement of the organization states that the charity is dedicated to improving literacy in grades K-3 in Title I schools in the greater Houston area. According to Eric Potts, a member of CYCLE Houston’s Board of Directors, the organization strives to change students’ lives by teaching them that hard work equals reward.
“We believe that when our students make it to the third grade, they should be reading to learn and not learning to read,” Potts said. “This program is a combination of teachers, parents and the community trying to help young people understand that education is a good thing. The bicycle is a way to reward them for what they do, not only to give them a way to transport themselves around, but it ultimately gives them a sense of accomplishment. This program is a community effort trying to do one thing and that’s to improve readership.”
Each K-3 student at Owens signed a contract at the beginning of September that was formulated with the help of the student’s teacher specifying an area of improvement. If the student fulfilled the specifications for improvement on the contract, he/she was rewarded with a new bike at the CYCLE event on Dec. 10.
The cafeteria at Owens was filled with bikes on Saturday, Dec. 10 as students were taken in one at a time to select a new bike to take home.
“Our students set a reading goal with their teachers and parents signed the contract to support their students to help achieve this goal. With the help of the CYCLE organization and many volunteers, we were able to celebrate all of this hard work. I am so proud of the 444 students that met their goals—this was 80 percent of our K-3 students that earned a new bike,” Frank said. “The CYCLE event was an amazing culmination of hard work by Owens teachers, parents and students.”
Approximately 75 members of the community, including businesses, also contributed to the success of the event by volunteering time on Saturday to celebrate each student’s accomplishment as they helped each student through the organized process in acquiring their new bike.
Parents peer in the window at the back of the school as they watch their students pick out their new bikes.
Carlos Morandi, an Exxon Mobile employee and CFISD resident, assisted with the helmet fitting and said that seeing the reactions on the children’s faces is what keeps him, his wife Yesenia and son Daniel (who attends Cy Lakes HS) volunteering with CYCLE year after year.
“I have volunteered with CYCLE since it was founded in 2000 when it was named Elves & More,” Morandi said. “I’m really happy that my family loves to do this … this is part of my giving back to the community with my family.”
CYCLE volunteer hugs Owens student as she leaves the cafeteria with her new bike.
Representatives from Coca-Cola, Citgo, NRG and Peacemakers Motorcycle Club also offered their time volunteering wherever they were needed.
According to Coca-Cola distribution manager Joe Caballero, Coca-Cola loves to work within local communities and said volunteering through CYCLE has been a fulfilling experience.
Peacemaker Motorcycle Club leader Kaz Kuzminski helps adjust the seat of an Owens student who earned a bike for meeting his reading goal.
Pictured are Peacemaker Motorcycle Club members and CYCLE’s Board of Director Eric Potts (pictured center).
“We found this event about five years ago and it really touches our hearts to see what a child can do to earn a bike,” he said. “It’s not just a giveaway—they actually have to earn it—what an amazing life skills lesson for students. We love volunteering through CYCLE and we’re going to continue doing this for as long as we can. It was heartwarming to be a part of the Owens event since it is so close to one of our distribution centers.”
Carlos Morandi, of Exxon Mobile and CFISD resident, has volunteered with CYCLE (formerly known as Elves & More) since its inception in 2000. His wife Yesenia and son Daniel (who attends Cy Lakes HS) also volunteer with CYCLE annually.
With tools in hand, Peacemakers Motorcycle Club leader Kaz Kuzminski, also known as TEECH because he is a retired teacher, said that his group has helped adjust bikes for about eight years now because he knows it really makes students happy.
“If you see the looks on those kids faces when you give them a bike, there’s nothing like that. We all remember our first bike,” he said. “This is our way of giving back and we love doing this every year and can’t wait for next year.”
More than 150,000 bikes to date have been awarded by CYCLE to deserving students throughout the greater Houston community.
For more information on CYCLE Houston, go to www.cyclehouston.org.