Teacher Raised Money To Buy New Bikes For Every Student

April 1, 2017
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Students were overjoyed when teachers at their South Carolina elementary school revealed hundreds of custom-made bicycles for them.

The new set of wheels came courtesy of first-grade teacher Katie Blomquist.

“I made a really conscious effort to watch their faces and let it soak in and imprint in my brain when those tarps went up,” she told TODAY. “It was that moment I’ve been waiting for seven months.” However, the idea originated over a year ago.

Blomquist teaches at North Charleston’s Pepperhill Elementary School, where many of the students live in poverty.

A while ago one of her students mentioned how much he wanted a bike for his birthday. His parents could not afford to buy him one, and neither could the teacher.

I started thinking about all the other kids who might not have bikes. We take a lot for granted and we forget that there’s a large category of kids out there who don’t have bikes,” she said. “That was such a large piece of my childhood memories, and I immediately thought, ‘oh, they’re not getting that!’”

She first thought about raising money for the boy, but then thought about the other students. Eventually, she included the entire student body!

I don’t want to leave anybody out,” she said.

In September, Blomquist started a “Every Kid Deserves a Bike!” GoFundMe page and set a $65,000 goal, enough to buy bikes and helmets for the 650 students at Pepperhill and within 3 months, she had raised over $82,000.

The teacher underestimated how massive the project would become. “This was an entire second job for me, when I got home from work until midnight every night,” she said.

Radio Flyer donated 100 big-wheel tricycles and training bikes for the pre-school students, while another local business, Affordabike, customized the remaining 550 bicycles, each one named “The Future” and with “Let’s go places.” Affordabike also donated bike locks and bells.

The project took nearly four months longer than planned but was extremely successful in the end.

I just knew it would happen for her because she’s one of those spunky people who gets things done,” she said. “She’s bubbly, energetic. Loves her students. She’s an out-of-the-box thinker. She’s full of life and energy and she shares that with her kids every day.”

Besides the joy and happiness it brought the kids, Blomquist said she’s enjoyed the sense of community created by strangers around the nation – those who donated to the campaign. It was support she did not expect.

“I just thought this would be a nice thing to do. Then things started rolling. It was first local, and then it became this country-wide thing,” she said. “All these people who don’t know our kids, who don’t know our school, gave their hard earned money. It was actual people’s dollars.

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