Community, strangers, celebrities made gifting of 650 bikes at Pepperhill possible
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) —
It all started with a quiet conversation between a teacher and her student. He wanted a bike, never had one to call his own.
But she couldn't turn her back on the rest of her class.
Good thing, big ideas are like big wheels. They just keep on turning.
This month's Jefferson Award winner is Katie Blomquist, who has made sure an entire student body, all 650 students, got a bike.
The secret floating around Pepperhill Elementary school in North Charleston was sturdier than a marshmallow and toothpick prism for sure, but it was one that came with a question.
How would Katie Blomquist turn her idea into reality?
"I thought it would be a nice thing to do, had no idea what I was getting into," Katie said.
Getting her kids up and moving was just a small part of it.
"It's the basic childhood right – it’s joy. Every single child deserves that, and a bike is one of the top things that represents that," she said.
And with that came her Tinkerbell moment, a bike for every child in the school.
“I wanted to make family memories, a sense of ownership. A lot of Title 1 kids don't own anything that is theirs,” Katie said.
Muscle and might helped make it happen. A North Charleston church served as a staging area, for the assembling of Radio Flyers.
Katie spoke up and asked for volunteers, and several answered the call.
“My wife saw it on Facebook, and we decided to come down and help out,” said one volunteer.
With each twist and turn, and a tongue roll, the community came out, 100 bikes for the tikes.
"Don't know very many cities where communities of strangers take off work and assemble bikes for kids they don't know, for a teacher they've never heard of for a school they've never heard of," Katie said.
Katie’s big opening came when Afford-A-Bike on King Street agreed to be the missing link by designing and piecing together 550 bikes, all appropriately named “The Future.”
Two tractor-trailers filled with bikes, ready to be delivered.
"It became a thousand more times more amazing than I ever dreamed," Katie said.
Katie's Go Fund Me page raised more than $80,000 to make it all possible. Among those who made donations -- people with only a few dollars to their names, people living in other countries, major corporations and star comedian and talk show host Steve Harvey.
"Actual people who gave actual hard earned money to them, to spread joy to them (children). I hope they take that feeling and give back however they can," Katie said.
It took all of three months.
"I think, ‘oh my gosh, I did this.’ I think I had this idea, look at what it has become. It is overwhelming,” she said.
The silence of Katie’s secret was finally broken this morning and it took all of 10 seconds.
“Every student at Pepperhill Elementary is going to get a brand new bike!” Katie screamed from a loud speaker.
The ultimate hands-on teaching moment of giving back fittingly ended with a victory lap.
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