By Alex Cordero
Third grade students from Chandler Elementary raised money to donate bicycles for children in Tanzania and Kenya through their annual bike rodeo at the Rose Bowl. The entire third grade class set out to ride their bicycles in honor of the students in Tanzania and Kenya. Faculty members, parents, Christian Daly, field deputy of LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, and Sebouh Bazikian, founder of One Bicycle Foundation, were also part of this amazing event supporting the children.
The students’ inspiration to add charity to their long standing bike rodeo tradition came shortly after Bazikian, an alumnus of Chandler, was the guest speaker for the school’s annual alumni visiting day earlier this year. During his visit, he shared with students his success story of combining his passion with charity. Bazikian was only 16 years old when he began raising awareness about the atrocities children have to go through to get to school in countries like Kenya. It could take students who live in rural areas of the country up to two hours to get to school. Providing a bicycle to a student, a simple solution, in countries like Tanzania and Kenya can be very beneficial and have a positive impact in the education of a young a student. Bazikian began his mission of sending one bicycle at a time to help children get to school. Now, after successfully delivering over 500 bicycles, his organization is raising awareness in the community. After sharing his story Bazikian had no idea the impact he was about to have on the third grade class of Chandler.
“I thought his words meant a lot to me and it was very powerful,” a young student named Charlotte said to me. Jennifer Johnson, director of Alumni Relations, contacted Bazikian a couple of days later to share with him how the children had expressed their inspiration to help students in Tanzania and Kenya. The children began to organize a fundraiser and as of April 19 the children have managed to raise $1,300, and counting. “Our class really likes supporting people in need,” said Chris, a 9-year-old third grade student.
The children did not stop at raising money; they also thought it would be a great idea if this year’s annual bike rodeo were in honor of children who overcome challenges everyday just to get to school. Mr. Anderson, the Athletic Director who has been hosting the bike rodeo for the last 20 years, was immediately on board. “By bicycling you can help a lot of kids, and we can help them get to school by raising money,” Keira Kim, a third grader who learned how to ride a bicycle at Chandler, said after expressing excitement she was off the training wheels. The children rode their bicycles and learned safety guidelines for riding a bicycle at the Rose Bowl. After a few laps of cycling, the children gathered around for some water drinking and popsicle eating.
While enjoying their sweet treats the children were introduced to Christian Daly, Field deputy of LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who praised the children for the great example they have set to help others in need. He presented them with an award for their philanthropy and the children and parents could not have been more pleased.
For more information about the One Bicycle Foundation and how you can help, please visit onebicyclefoundation.org.