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Elementary school students gifted bicycles

Mirror photo by Russ O'Reilly / The curtain is pulled back to reveal bicycles for third-grade students of three Altoona Area elementary schools. The bikes were given away through the Bikes for Kids Foundation. Students who received the bikes attended a surprise assembly Monday in the Altoona Area Senior High School auditorium.

When the curtain was pulled back to reveal rows of shiny new bicycles, the crowd of children erupted.

Third-grade students from Ebner Elementary, Juniata Elementary and The STEAM Learning Center at Penn Lincoln Elementary School attended an assembly at the Altoona Area High School on Monday not knowing they all would receive bicycles.

Not even the teachers or the principals knew all students would get a bike and helmet.

“It was totally unexpected,” Juniata Elementary Principal Brandi Orner said. “I had no idea every child would get a bike. I had children crying because they had never had a new bike before. I am so happy for them.”

Students were under the impression the assembly was to announce three winners of an essay contest they all entered. They thought one lucky student from each school would receive a free bike for the best written essay.

The assembly included the pep band, cheerleaders, and senior students who talked to the students about their goals, plans for post-secondary education and how they are getting to pursue their dreams.

At the end of the assembly, the announcement was made, and the stage curtain was pulled back to reveal bikes for everyone.

In total, 240 bicycles were given to third-grade students at the three schools.

The Bikes for Kids Foundation selects schools for its bike reward program that have at least 80 percent of students who qualify under federal law for free school breakfast and lunch.

“The program is not about giving away a free bike but giving kids a vote of confidence to dream big, set goals and achieve their goals,” a Bikes for Kids Foundation press release stated.

Prior to the assembly, the children read the third-grade student book, “Think Big, Work Hard, Be Kind, No Excuses,” and each wrote an essay on what they wanted to be when they grow up and how those four character principles applied to them.

The foundation’s representative, Robert Krumroy, who authored the book, presented the bicycles to the children at Altoona Area. Krumroy has authored 11 marketing books, as well as a series of children’s books.

Bikes for Kids was brought to Altoona by Urban Air Adventure Park Altoona and additionally sponsored by Bruno and Lena DeGol Foundation, Reliance Bank and Allan Hancock Agency.

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