Sometimes volunteer work can feels so good, one wonders who is benefitting, those being helped or the volunteers themselves? The annual South Marshall Block Party bike giveaway is one of those situations where the volunteers get just as much out of it as those they are seeking to help. The scores of kids getting bikes were so excited, and so grateful, and so happy, I am sure that all of our hearts will be lighter for a long time when we recall it. Indeed, my back is still sore from living over 100 bikes over a fence (many of them twice), but I really don't care. Getting kids on bikes is a cause near and dear to us. As avid riders and racers, we all remember how much we loved to ride as kids (that love never faded for us). It is impossible to describe what it is like seeing how excited these kids, many of whom are underprivelaged, get when they get their new bike. Out of all the events I will do this year with my Aetna-Expo jersey on, this one might just be my favorite.
This is the third year in a row, Aetna-Expo rider David Hildebrand, has organized a bike giveaway for kids in the South Marshall neighborhood of Hartford CT and his passion for the event is evident in the amount of work he puts into it, which is huge. This year was even bigger than it had been in the past and the size and scale of it is due mostly to the efforts of David Hildebrand, who drove far and wide to pick up donated bikes, and Robert Kiernan of Manchester Cycle who, yet again, fixed a huge number of bikes that often arrive to him in less than ideal condition, for free. Aetna-Expo riders Jeremy Brazeal and Todd Bowden also helped out throughout the evening, as well as Cat 3 team rider Nick Willette, and Expo racer Nicole Hildebrand. Dave and Nicole's son Connor even pitched in, helping to give out helmets to the kids, which were provided by Aetna, and holding wrenches and generaly doing whatever he could. Many Aetna interns were also integral to the night's success. Therefore, calling it a great "collective effort" is a bit of an understatment.
The total number of bikes given away was somwhere on the order of 140, which was nearly double the number given away last year. Despite a stretch of torrential rain, we managed to give all the bikes away. It was a phenomenal evening. Thanks again to our title sponsor Aetna, and eveyone else who worked so hard to make this event happen. As someone who was mostly a passenger on this ride I was truly in awe of the amount of work and energy that made it happen, and I was so glad I could play a small part in the event's success.
Aetna-Expo riders Ben Carbonetti (right) and Jeremy Brazeal flanking Aetna interns who helped out with the bike giveaway. We all are still dry at this point as the rain haden't quite arrived yet.
So Many Bikes!
The man who made so much of it happen, David Hildebrand (Front Right) along with some Aetna Exployees and Interns who were helping to bring nearly 4 trailer loads of bikes from the Aetna Garage to the Block Party.