CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Dozens of volunteers came together at the Players Baseball Academy in Walton Hills to assemble 171 donated bikes for foster kids in Cuyahoga County to receive for Christmas.
“To me when I come here, my heart Is full,” said Michael, who requested that his last name not be used because he and his wife just adopted a child. He and his wife started this bike drive for foster kids at Christmas time three years ago, organized through the “Together We Rise,” organization.
“We were licensed as foster parents, at the time we were fostering a young lady. We were motivated by the whole system - taking her in. So, we decided to get together with some family and friends and initially it was supposed to be 10 bikes, and then social media was very effective, and all of a sudden we had 50 bikes for our first year,” said Michael.
Three years later the event has grown.
Tammy Sexton of Ravenna says she couldn't help but think of the child who will receive the bike she was putting together.
"I see a lot of them every day - I work in the public and I see children who are less fortunate, and I can't imagine the joy that will be on their face Christmas morning," said Sexton.
For privacy reasons, Michael and his wife have not been able to be present when the foster children receive their bikes, but social workers have shared pictures that bring tears to their eyes.
"When I saw the pictures I - it's an emotional thing because I've raised a daughter that's experienced this, and I've seen what she's gone through," said Michael.
Shortly after being assembled, the completed bikes are picked up by social workers and delivered to the families that are caring for the foster children who will receive them for Christmas.
"For the kids themselves, it's just the joy of being a normal kid - the joy of receiving a gift at Christmas that may lead to a lifelong passion, or a gift that helps them get away for a little bit," added Michael.
Michael and his wife plan to organize the event again next year.