Yesterday, more than 100 kids received "new" wheels at our Third Annual Bikes & Badges event at Glenwood Community Center with Columbus Division of Police. Smiles, laughter, and hugs were in abundance, along with a lot of hot dogs, sodas, prizes, games, and dips in the dunk tank. Somehow, even when the children missed the mark, the officers still managed to tumble in the water...hmmm....
We brought about 140 bikes to the event, initially setting out 100 because we weren't sure if all of them would be given away, but guess what? ALL of them went to new, very happy homes. The children were fitted for helmets, given books from our friends at 2nd & 7 Foundation, and officers and 614cadets helped them pick out their new bikes.
Even kids who didn't need a bike had a chance at our prize wheel, with items from our friends at Walmart Dublin - Britton Pkwy and other Starfish donors, with a bag from premier sponsor Byers Auto Group to hold all their newfound treasures.
Food was available for everyone, including drinks from our amazing friends at Pepsi In The 614, who are always so willing to help us with these events. CPD Officer Julien Roffey cheerfully fired up his grill for a second year at Glenwood and did a great job keeping us supplied with food.
Columbus Division of Fire was absolutely amazing. They came and filled the dunk tank in a matter of minutes for us, then filled it again when the splashes of the officers had displaced so much water they were hitting the bottom. They also brought the Safety House, which even the adults loved, but we had one excited girl tell us she went through it "twenty times! Look at my knees." Indeed, her knees were dirty. She is certain she now knows what to do in case of a fire, which we love.
The RREACT Team was there (we love them!), handing information about addiction treatment options, as well as NARCAN, to anyone who needed it.
There were two different kinds of CPD pups there--K-9 Officer John Kifer brought K-9 Carr to see everyone. Carr is a very friendly K-9 so he was happy to get pets from happy kids. The CPD Therapy Dog Unit also came to say hi (and try on some bike helmets to make sure they fit OK).
We love that Starfish brings officers from other agencies together in fun ways. Dublin Police organized a donation drive again this year for us and more than 100 bikes were donated by their residents. Starfish Board Member and Dublin Deputy Chief Nick Tabernik and Corporal Bill Morris came to help hand out bikes and see the joy on the kids' faces. We also had friends from the Columbus Regional Airport Authority at John Glenn Columbus International Airport, Franklin County Sheriff's Office, and Hilliard Division of Police.
This event was already in the works before the tragedy occurred at Glenwood last week. We followed the lead of Glenwood Center Manager, TD Dishmon, and went ahead with the event. We actually expanded it, adding the dunk tank, and asking Zone 3 Safe Streets to invite the neighborhood to come to this Community Center that is loved by so many. We were grateful to hear from many people that the event was helpful to them, that it was good to hear the laughter and see the smiles. Being able to work with the partners we have is an honor and being in the position we are in is a privilege. We are very grateful to do the work we do. Thank you to all the officers, volunteers, sponsors, and community partners who worked together to make this event a success. We look forward to many more.