United Way launches campaign to replace stolen trailer, bikes

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Thieves put the brakes on a program helping kids learn how to ride their bikes safely.

A trailer with bikes inside was stolen and now the program is reaching out to the community for help. 

The United Way’s Healthy Communities Initiative organizes bike rodeos throughout the year for students in the Greater Birmingham area.

Students are taken through obstacle courses and taught everything from helmet safety, to how to obey traffic signals. 

Back in July, the group’s trailer carrying the bikes was stolen.

“It was pretty disheartening,” said Nick Sims, the vice president of Healthy Communities at the United Way of Central Alabama. “We were getting ready for a bike rodeo event, I was actually driving into the parking lot to hook up the trailer in preparation for an event that was upcoming at a YMCA summer camp and the trailer wasn’t there”.

Police were notified, but in the meantime, that meant the program had to be placed on hold.

Julie Cole Farmer with Think First Alabama works with the United Way’s Healthy Communities Initiative to teach students the importance of bike safety. 

Farmer tells CBS 42, without a bike rodeo, kids are missing out on potentially life-saving experiences. 

“It’s really challenging to not have that partner to not be able to give that hands-on, again, we do go out into the schools but we do some things in the classroom but it’s just not the same,” said Farmer.

Kristen Booker is the principal of Hemphill Elementary School, she tells CBS 42 the bike rodeo is something her students look forward to every year. 

“I was devastated because the students look forward to that and I don’t have the funds to purchase bikes for them to be able to still have that experience but I’m hoping that whoever took those bikes will return them,” said Booker. 

Beginning Tuesday, the United Way is launching a community campaign to replace the stolen items. 

The non-profit will use some available grant money to go toward replacing the trailer, but the grant won’t cover all of the costs.

The group is reaching out to the community to help raise the remaining $5,500.

To donate, click here

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