Why You Are ALL My Heroes
A hero is defined as a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. No matter your Trips for Kids' chapter size, you and your team/volunteers are all heroes to us. Each time you introduce, encourage, and/or challenge a young person to ride, repair or build a bicycle you impact a life. You make a young person think, focus, dream and believe in themselves. No may or may not know it; however, you do these things every time you hit the dirt or get your hands greasy.
It takes courage to teach a child something they may not be familiar with. When a child experiences their first "aha" moment, finally realizing their independence through a bicycle, that is an achievement. Whether you run your chapter full-time, part-time, or just for a few hours a week, month or year, YOU are positively affecting a young person's future which is quite a noble quality.
When I was offered an opportunity to be a part of the new national Trips for Kids organization, I really did not know that the call would not only change my own life, but my daughter Piper's. Our executive director, Robert Ping was incredibly passionate while explaining to me the importance of how a simple bicycle could be to a child. His enthusiasm was contagious as he spoke about the organization and how he planned on bridging and expanding on all the amazing work Marilyn and our chapters had already accomplished. He also shared that we had much more work to be done. I had taken a brief hiatus to focus on family for a few years. The opportunity to work and impact youth again on a national scale, while also learning about the bicycling industry was something I could not ignore. It just felt right. I had to join the team.
During the course of my first year with national, I got to see all the good work each of you accomplished by viewing your social media posts, reading your newsletters and stories and connecting with you by phone and on webinars. The biking community was such a wonderful new world to me. I also had the pleasure of working with new chapters as they developed and learn with them.
I did all this while also holding a secret that I must admit to all of you. Until 2018, my daughter Piper did not know how to ride a bike. Although she was an active 11-year-old, at the time, she struggled with learning. I mean struggled. We tried over and over and over for few years. Her hope of riding was deflating rapidly. There was a mental block I just could not figure out how to help her overcome. Between my schedule and our own family circumstances, I could not invest more time in trying to teach her and was at a loss at her disappointment. As a parent, I felt I had failed her. To make things worse, I now worked for an organization that got kids riding and I could not even help my own daughter learn to ride.
The Sea Otter Classic was approaching and I decided that maybe emerging Piper in the experience around other youth riders would help her. I also knew some of our chapter heroes would be there and was hoping to lean on a few of you for your help. For another four weeks prior to Sea Otter, she took her Goodwill bike out almost daily, and was determined to at least be able to ride it a short distance. Just knowing she would be interacting with other youth riders and meeting other Trips for Kids family members at this “bike event” motivated her in a different way.
It took her that entire four weeks of additional trial and error, but by the time we stepped on the plane to California, she had finally ridden her bike down the street for the very first time. I cried. Before we left, I told her about all the wonderful and passionate people she would meet and how they would only be there to encourage her like the other children.
Some of you who attended the event learned about Piper’s trepidation of getting on a bike in front of other kids and you reached out to her providing encouragement. Adam Smith, with Trips for Kids Marin, Rafael Avendano with Trips for Kids Bulldog Riders, Coach Raphael Harris with Trips for Kids High Desert Riders and even our newest chapter, at the time, Trips for Kids Tulare County co-leaders, Brandon and Jaime Baeza’s own daughters gave her tips and introduced her to the other kids in their chapters that also encouraged her. Cary Huggins, chapter leader for Trips for Kids Mid-Coast Maine shared booth time with us and let her know that we all believed in her. Piper felt a kinship with the youth she met and Trips for Kids leaders she met. A year later, she still asks about all of them.
Meeting those of you who were able to join us during our time there, left an imprint in both mine and my daughter’s hearts.
Piper will never race a bicycle. That’s not her desire or in her DNA, but she can now ride. It did take her own perseverance to accomplish that, but what pushed her pedals forward was the wind of support she received from our Trips for Kids family that truly got her riding. I saw first-hand what you did to help my own daughter. It was not just about being able to finally ride a bicycle. It was also being a part of a caring and nurturing environment made up of both her peers and their leaders who were their to not judge, but to encourage. Not all children receive that. My daughter is lucky and so are the youth that ride and wrench with you.
Thank you all for everything you do to truly change kids’ lives, two wheels at a time. Since 1988, Trips for Kids has collectively served 230,000 kids, including my little girl. Thanks for being a part of my extended family and for being heroes in your communities.