Miramar Beach resident Bill MacBride would like to give the gift of childhood memories this holiday season by means of a shiny new bike.
“I’ve always been fortunate enough to ride a bike,” said the longtime bike enthusiast. “Being able to join my friends around the neighborhood on their bikes was amazing — my first taste of independence.”
But MacBride realizes not all children are as fortunate as he was growing up, and for five years, MacBride has made sure that one child would be lucky enough to have a new bike on Christmas morning.
This year, however, he decided to rally community support in order “to do more.”
He has thought for years about enlisting his friends, neighbors, and community members to raise money for this cause, but it wasn’t until this year that his vision came to fruition in the form of Bikes for Tots Foundation.
“I just started it; I put it out there and said ‘Please jump on board,’ ” said MacBride. And just two weeks into the foundation’s inaugural bike-raising drive, the outpouring of generosity has exceeded his expectations and initial goal of raising enough money to provide five $80 bikes to underprivileged children.
Donors have already contributed enough to brighten the faces of 10 children on Christmas morning.
“I just blinked an eye and surpassed my goal ... Now my goal is 15 bikes,” said MacBride, who said he isn’t worried about meeting that goal. “It strikes a chord with people; we all grew up riding bikes. Remember the memories you had as a kid.”
Donations can be made in any amount. And with $80 funding a single bicycle, MacBride said the number of full donations has been surprising.
“I think the biggest shock I’ve seen is getting whole bikes,” said MacBride, who initially thought it might take 20 or 30 locals to fund the same 10 bikes. “They all have been full bikes or more.”
He said the outpouring of support for the initiative has come from all over, some locally and some “out of left field,” with the first donation coming from MacBride’s friend from high school, who lives in Hawaii.
Miramar Beach’s Robin’s Bikes and Fitness is joining in to help inform the public and act as a collection spot for cash and check donations.
“We’re the home base for people coming in,” said bike shop owner Robin Wilkes, who will spread the word with people who visit the shop. “It’s a simple idea – that every child should know the pure joy of bike riding. We are happy to support the cause.”
And biking is a cause worth championing.
“I’ve gotten a lot out of it — health, a wealth of friends,” said MacBride, adding that most of all, “It’s just plain fun.”
The men are looking to purchase 20-inch bikes, which will fit children from as young as six to as old as 12.
Visit the website at BikesforTotsFoundation.com or Like Bikes for Tots Foundation on Facebook for more information.
Dreaming of a bike Christmas
Help give the gift of bike riding to a local child with a donation in any amount. Donations can be made online at BikesForTotsFoundation.com or at Robin’s Bikes in Miramar Beach, 11166 Emerald Coast Parkway. Make donations by Dec. 14 to allow for shopping time, as well as pick-up and distribution by Toys for Tots.