A group of children and parents gathered outside the Community Center at University Village in DeKalb with the excitement and anticipation of receiving a bicycle as the KishHealth Systems RV pulled into the parking lot filled with children’s bikes. The non-profit bicycle advocacy organization, Axletree, partnered with Live Healthy DeKalb County and the YMCA’s Camp Power program, along with Ryan Loitz working on his Eagle Scout project to organize this delivery and donation of bikes. This is the third donation of bicycles as part of Ryan’s Eagle Scout project, “Recycle Your Cycle: For a Wheelie Good Cause”. His project collected unwanted adult and youth bicycles in his community with the goal to fix them up and donate them to people in need in the community.
This donation was arranged as a part of Axletree’s Project Enable, a need-based program for DeKalb residents to receive a bicycle, free of charge, to be used for transportation, commuting to work or school, exercise, or to meet other personal needs. Aaron Nevdal comments, “The goal of Project Enable is to enable those who want to be active and to have the independence and personal freedom of riding a bicycle to do so, even if they lack the means to purchase their own bicycle.
When Ryan had over 100 bikes to donate through his Eagle project, we knew the University Village families and kids at Camp Powers would be the perfect place to bring some bikes to donate.” Axletree members Aaron Nevdal and Dean Frieders partnered with Lisa Cumings of Live Healthy DeKalb County and Tiara Huggins who works with Camp Power and is a co- founder of the University Village Tennant Association, to create an application process for Camp Power families to apply and receive a bike for their children.
Ryan Loitz gave a short speech and presented the bikes to the University Village families. With the assistance of Aaron Nevdal and Dean Frieders, they worked with each child to choose and properly fit bikes while Ryan and his Dad, Jeff Loitz, assisted with fitting them with new helmets and gave them a new bike lock. After 2 hours, 21 youth bikes found new homes with smiling faces from the children who received them. Seven year old LeBron Carrington was very excited to pick out a bike and exclaims, “I’m so happy I’m getting my own bike! I’m going to ride it a lot with my friends!” Ryan Loitz comments, “This is what my project was all about; doing something to help others. It’s a great feeling to be here donating bikes to these kids and knowing they now have a way to enjoy family bike rides together or an easier way to get to and from school, as well as knowing they’ll be able to be active and enjoying the outdoors.”
Lisa Cumings, Community Health Liaison for KishHealth Systems and Co-Coach for Live Healthy DeKalb County comments, “We are so proud to be partners with Axletree and be a part of this bike donation. These bikes give the opportunity for the kids to be more active, which is what Axletree and Live Healthy DeKalb County’s passion is – to keep kids and families active! Ryan did an unbelievable selfless act of kindness with his project, and we thank him for choosing the kids at University Village!” Taylor Rhoden, a NIU Student Intern at KishHealth Systems, comments, “As my first day of my internship at KishHealth, it was pretty cool to help and be a part of this project!”
This is the last of 3 donation days Axletree and Ryan have organized as part of his Eagle Project. Over 100 bikes were donated this summer and his project has accumulated over 418 combined hours in the past 9 months. Ryan was also able to donate almost $400 to his project beneficiary, Axletree, to continue helping those in need through bicycle advocacy. Axletree recently held a fundraiser, the Night Bison 2016, to benefit Blackstone Bicycle Shop in Chicago, where 60 bikes were recently donated through Ryan’s project. Axletree decided to use his donation in conjunction with a matching donation from Axletree and all the event participants to support Blackstone Bicycle Shop and their youth programs. With completion of Ryan’s Eagle Project, he is now in the process of applying for the Eagle Rank, the highest rank achievable in Boy Scouts.
Gratitude is extended to Axletree, Live Healthy DeKalb County, KishHealth Systems, University Village, Camp Powers and the Kishwaukee YMCA, Troop 16 members, Dave and Preston Ruud, Jason Cowan, Blue Moon Bikes, Sycamore United Methodist Church, Jim Hancock, Blackhawk Moving and Storage and Go Mini Storage, Northern Rehab Physical Therapy Specialists, Tom Peterson and the Woodstock UPS Store, Emily Plauck, and Jeff and Deb Loitz – for without all of their support and assistance, this project would not have been successful. To learn more about Axeltree, please visit www.axletree.com; to learn more about Live Healthy DeKalb County, please visit www.livehealthydekalbcounty.org; to learn more about Camp Powers, please visit www. http://kishymca.org/camp-power.
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