TFK Charlotte’s Take A Kid Mountain Biking Day featured in the Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly

October 01, 2010

Trips for Kids Charlotte mountain-biking event draws about 100 riders
OCTOBER 8, 2010 BY CW EDITOR
by Alan Hodge

Bicycle wheels were turning, and faces were beaming early Saturday, Oct. 2, at Colonel Francis Beatty Park near Matthews.

The morning event that brought the glee was a local version of the International Mountain Biking Association’s sixth annual Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day. The main activity was a vigorous off-road ride through the woods and other trails at the park.

It was the second time local nonprofit Trips for Kids Charlotte had hosted the event. The group offers bike outings every Saturday from February through November for 10- to 15-year-olds from Charlotte’s economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. Beatty Park’s mountain-biking trails are the backdrop for many of those events.

About 100 people gathered early Saturday to enjoy the ride. Members of the Tar Heel Trailblazers, Dirt Divas and Spirit Riders cycling clubs also participated. REI, and outdoor outfitter, provided lunch, and Honest Tea offered a tea-and-fruit-juice break station for riders.

Charlotte resident James Squittieri brought his children, Harley and Rocco, to the outing.

“This is a great way for us to spend some time together,” he said.

Trips for Kids Charlotte also operates the Re-Cyclery and a retail store at the corner of Davidson and 15th streets in Charlotte, where youth can restore and repair donated bikes and, after completing six workshop sessions, take them home. Extra repaired bikes are available for purchase by the general public.

“Our overall mission is to get kids outdoors and on a bike to introduce them to a lifelong, healthy activity,” said Trips for Kids Charlotte President Paula Fricke. “We also use biking as a tool to learn lessons such as respect, honesty and ­teamwork.”

Keith Sorensen, a volunteer at Saturday’s ride, has donated his time to Trips for Kids Charlotte for five years.

“This is a chance for kids to get in the woods and experience the joy of being on a bike,” Sorensen said. “You can really see them light up and come into their own. I like to see the kids push themselves and take on the challenge of it.”

Trips for Kids Charlotte outfitted kids from the Lakewood community and Alexander Youth Network for Saturday’s ride. Jamaal Griffin, family and children outreach coordinator with the Lakewood Community Development Center, brought eight children.

“Events like this give these children the experience of being outdoors, not like it is in a neighborhood,” Griffin said. “It helps broaden their horizons, and that’s important.”

Twelve-year-old Jamel Davis, a member of Griffin’s group, said Saturday’s ride was the first time he had taken part in such an event.

“This is going to be fun,” Jamel said. “I can’t wait.”

The crisp morning and bright sun, coupled with the large turnout and a post-ride cookout, spelled a successful event, Fricke said.

“It was bigger and better than ever,” she said.

Want to know more?
For more information on Trips for Kids Charlotte, 512 E. 15th St., Charlotte, call 704-910-3970 or visit www.tripsforkids.org. Donations of gently used bicycles are needed.

About 100 eager area students donned helmets and grabbed mountain bikes for Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day Saturday, Oct. 2, at Colonel Francis Beatty Park near Matthews. It was the second time local nonprofit Trips for Kids Charlotte had hosted the event, which was open to the public. The group offers bike outings every Saturday from February through November for 10 to 15- year-olds from Charlotte’s economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. Beatty Park’s mountain-biking trails are the backdrop for many of those events.

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