Tyler Model A club donates 54 bikes for PATH project

Published on Friday, 11 July 2014 00:16 - Written by Betty Waters blw@tylerpaper.com

Kevin Johnson, 13, looked closely at the red bicycle in front of him and said, “I like the gears on it. I like the color. I’m appreciative of it.”

His mother, Nina Warren, said, “I’m just glad someone was able to give him a bike. Somebody else threw it away and they (members of Tyler Model A Club) made it look real good for us. I’ll be riding it, too.”

The club donated 54 refurbished bikes on Thursday at the People Attempting to Help (PATH) main parking lot on Front Street.

Twenty-four bikes went to children in Bev’s Kid Reach Mentoring program for at-risk children ages 6 to 17 sponsored by PATH, and the other 30 bikes went to selected children residing in PATH’s transitional housing program for low-to-moderate income families, Kim Lessner, PATH’s development director, said.

“They (Model A Club members) graciously offered to rebuild these bikes, and tonight is all about a party for the builders of the bikes to meet the kids who are going to get the bikes,” Ms. Lessner said. Refreshments were served.

The distribution was called the “Tour de PATH” bicycle event.

The name of each child was called out over a loud speaker and one by one, the children were presented a bike that looked new.

Walt Gallaway, a member of the board of directors for Tyler Model A Club, said the club gets bikes from sources all over town, such as larger stores that contribute bikes that have either been returned or have a defect.

“We restore them. We buy the parts that are needed and put them in like-new shape and then we contribute them to organizations,” Gallaway said, explaining that this year the club chose PATH to be the recipient.

“It’s a wonderful organization to be associated with; we appreciate what PATH is doing,” Gallaway said.

PATH is a nonprofit entity whose volunteers serve economically disadvantaged people of Smith County with both emergency assistance and programs to empower them to become self-sufficient.

Previously, Tyler Model A Club has given bikes to The Salvation Army, Child Protective Services of Smith County, Azleway Children’s Home and other local charities in Tyler.

“As a club, we’ve found it’s not enough just to have a common interest (in Model A cars). We need a community involvement that holds our club together and our people together,” Gallaway said. “We believe that without that community tie and that common involvement, no matter what our club interests are, it’s the people that keep us together.”

Giving the bikes to children, Gallaway said, gives club members “joy, pleasure, excitement and a wonderful sense of fulfillment.”

Hailie Shears, 10, said she likes “everything” about her new bike. She has not had one since she was 4, her mother, Ashley Shears, said.

“She gets to ride it to our house. We live a block away, so she is going to ride it and I’m going to follow her in the car,” Ms. Shears said. “We really appreciate this; this is awesome.”

Three bikes went to Ray and Irma Valentin’s four children and a child the couple mentors. “Oh wow! It’s a blessing,” she exclaimed. He said, “The bikes are beautiful; they are gorgeous. The kids will enjoy them.”

The bicycles were provided at a time when the children can use them the most — summer break, Ms. Lessner said.