What began with one man, a huge heart, a desire to give back to his community, and 42 bikes in 2005 has grown into an organization and an annual goodwill event.
Now, Ride for Bikes has many volunteers, many hearts, and 312 bikes, which were assembled Saturday and will be given to every kindergartner at Grand Heights Early Childhood Center and Penasco School. Threehundred more will be given to kindergartners in Lovington.
The originator of Ride for Bikes, Robby Gaines, said Saturday, “It wouldn’t be possible without the volunteers,” as he beamed with pride alongside 6-year-old “bike wrangler” Liam Lucero of Hagerman.
Gaines and his many volunteers would like to thank Hammer Down Hot … Shots and Alvarado Hot Shots, who transported the boxed bikes from Lea County to the Artesia Center; the Artesia Center for providing storage for the bikes as well as their construction site; Nor-Lea Regional Hospital, which provided red-and-blue bike helmets for each recipient; the more than 81 volunteers, including the U.S. Border Patrol, Western Bank and Navajo Refining Co. employees, a local motorcycle club, and many, many more who helped assemble the bikes Saturday morning; coach Eric McCaleb and his crew, who unloaded and set up the assembled bikes at the kindergarten for distribution; and the many people who participated in Ride for Bikes’ fundraisers throughout the year, which facilitated the purchase of the bikes.
Anyone wishing to donate for next year’s “Miles of Smiles” project can send their donation to: Ride for Bikes, Greater Artesia Foundation, P.O. Box 1344, Artesia, N.M., 88211-1344.