Foundation surprises local third-graders: ‘Everybody’s getting a bike!’

For the fifth straight year, the nonprofit Bikes for Kids Foundation paid a visit to a Tustin Unified elementary school and stunned local third-graders with a pretty big reveal.

“Everybody is getting a bike!”, co-founder and CEO Bill Pollakov declared, sparking the kinds of cheers and smiles that have been a little harder to come by in 2020.

This time the surprise arrived on the campus of Helen Estock Elementary School, where an outdoor and socially distanced assembly for the entire third-grade class was held on Dec. 11.

Initially, five students were told they were getting new bikes through a random drawing. But it didn’t stop there.

Student clapping
Estock students Jimena Flores (front) and Daniella Sebunnya break into cheers after hearing the entire third-grade was getting brand new bikes.  (Photo courtesy of John Garrett)

The Poway-based group said it had a few more bikes to give away. And then came the Oprah-esque announcement from Pollakov, who gleefully informed more than 75 third-graders that they were all leaving with sleek, new bicycles and helmets.

Don’t just take our word for it. Watch the holiday drama unfold in the video above, produced by Cesar Ordiano, TUSD’s digital media administrator.

According to its website, the Bikes for Kids Foundation has impacted more than 61,000 economically disadvantaged children since 2002. The program provides character-building books and lessons at campuses with large numbers of Title 1 students, often culminating with an essay assignment.

Estock was the only school in Orange County to be chosen for the program this year. Volunteers from a local mountain bike club known as the Dirt Bags raised funds for the bikes and assembled them in the school’s multipurpose room the night before.

It certainly paid off. One student was seen petting the seat of his new ride, according to Estock Interim Principal Jaclyn Spangler, who expressed her gratitude to Bikes for Kids.

“There’s no better time than now to surprise our students and spread kindness,” Spangler said. “Not only are we approaching the holidays, but we are in the middle of a pandemic. Today, these third-graders experienced the most joy they have felt in a very long time.”

Third-grader with a bike
Third-grader Alan Oran poses with his new ride courtesy of Bikes for Kids. Volunteers from a local mountain bike club assembled more than 75 bicycles in the multipurpose room the previous evening.  (Photo courtesy of John Garrett)

Third-grader Leah Hernandez told a friend that she didn’t know how to ride a bike, so a volunteer stepped in to help.

“I learned how to ride a bike in 10 minutes,” Leah said. “It felt amazing. I planned on learning this weekend from my dad.”

Meanwhile, at least one recipient was already making plans to pay it forward.

“I’m giving the bike to my sister for Christmas because she had a bike and it broke,” Jadalyn Sanchez said. “So I want to surprise her with the bike.”

“Today was a really fun day because we even got to ride our bikes and meet people that ride mountain bikes,” added David Martinez. “My favorite memory from today was racing my new bike on the field with my friends.”