A huge, 200-wheel surprise awaited one hundred students of Smoketree Elementary School in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., Friday, February 20th. They each received a free bicycle and helmet through a joint Adopt-a-Bike event organized by the Loss Prevention Foundation and the USS Foundation.

The bicycles waited under tarps in the multipurpose room of the school. Once the tarps were lifted, each surprised student received their bike, followed by bicycle training by firefighter Luther Smith of Lake Havasu City Firefighters Association.

Eighty-two percent of students of Smoketree Elementary are on a free or reduced cost lunch program, which is indicative of the hard economic circumstances their families live in. But the school’s teachers told us about individual kids who have shown exemplary perseverance in the face of economic adversity and who have made great efforts to grow academically. And we wanted to do something awesome for those children!

“It was clear that the kids saw that doing well in school rewarded them with a bike, helmet, t-shirt and backpack,” recounted Gene Smith, president of the Loss Prevention Foundation. “When I asked them what they promised to do for us, several repeated that they would continue to come to school and work hard because good things would happen.”

“It’s just an amazing experience to have so many people excited to be able to help and further this movement, and impact these children’s lives,” noted Denise Canfield, executive vice president of USS. “And the nice surprise for us, as the event coordinators, is the generosity shown by the students and faculty of Smoketree Elementary. The Loss Prevention Foundation and USS Foundation actually raised an additional twenty bikes for the kids here, and instead of keeping them, they wanted to donate ten to another school in the area—paying it forward, as it were—to spread the incentive. That’s pretty stunning.”

Smith added that he was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for the program. Many of the donations came from the loss prevention community. “We have a record number of donations and pledges along with a record number of volunteers on event day. Special thanks goes to Walmart for their generosity and their volunteers who put the bikes together. Kmart, Hibbett Sports, Petco and Home Depot were absolutely instrumental in making this a reality for the students.”

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