I always wanted to be an audience member at one of Oprah’s shows when she announced that everyone was the recipient of some outrageously awesome prize — a TV, her favorite new kitchen appliance, or maybe a bike! Imagine what it must feel like to be surprised with something so incredible. Then, imagine that you’re a Chicago Public School student who is unsuspectingly presented with a shiny bike as recognition for hard work and good grades. That’s the thrill and excitement that Pedal Power founder, Nicole Basil, creates for some highly deserving CPS students every year.
Nicole started the brilliant “bike-sharing” program, Pedal Power, in 2008 when she was a third grader at McKenzie Elementary School in our neighboring town of Wilmette, IL. She and her younger brother, Bennett, had a couple of bicycles that they had outgrown and didn’t know what to do with. They asked around for some place to donate them and found that there were no local bicycle donation drop-off locations around.
“My little third-grader mind without limitations suggested we could start our own!” Nicole told me. “I figured a lot of people had this problem, so my family and I found someone at the Jane Addams Hull House in Chicago to help us get started. They connected us with the CPS system, and we learned about their emphasis on achieving Honor Roll for their students. It grew from there. We have now donated over 2,200 bikes, and it’s still going strong!”
The original program started out just in Nicole’s village of Wilmette, but it has expanded over the years and now has 8 drop off locations in 7 different towns on the North Shore of Chicago. Last year, Pedal Power received close to 200 bikes. All of the donated, gently used bikes are inspected and polished up before being transported to the deserving recipients.
“It’s really fun when we get invited to the Honor Roll assemblies (because these bikes are earned by good grades, not just given). One time, I remember there were about 20-30 kids who were being recognized for making Honor Roll. They were put together for a group photo, and then the principal yelled into the microphone, “And all of you get a bike, too!” The bikes were hidden behind a projector screen which was then raised to reveal all of the bikes, each with a brand new helmet and a child’s name on it. The kids were jumping up and down and screaming. It’s one of my very favorite memories and makes it all so worthwhile.”
So, who will take over Pedal Power when Nicole goes away to college? One of her proteges, of course. “This year, a 4th grader who I babysit for learned about Pedal Power and asked me how she could help. She was very enthusiastic and is a responsible young lady, so her family and I decided that she would be my understudy for the next two years. I’m going to help her and show her how to do everything this year and next. It was perfect timing!”
If you have a gently used bike to donate or just want to learn more about Pedal Power, please visit gopedalpower.com.
Details about the November 12th bike drive are below.
Do you have outgrown or unused bikes in your garage?
Do you want to encourage kids to do well in school?
Do you want a tax deduction?
If you answered yes to these questions, then you should bring your bikes to the Pedal Power bike drive on Saturday, November 12th, from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon. The bikes are donated to students in the Chicago Public Schools as a reward for making the honor roll.
You can donate working, gently used bikes at many locations in the north and northwest suburbs:
WINNETKA – Green Bay Cycles, 999 Green Bay Road, Winnetka, IL 60093
NORTHBROOK – George Garner Cyclery, 1111 Waukegan Road, Northbrook, IL 60062
LAKE FOREST – Kiddles Sports, 258 Market Square, Mettawa, IL 60045
WILMETTE – McKenzie Elementary School, 649 Prairie Avenue, Wilmette, IL 60091
PALATINE – Mike’s Bike Shop, 155 N Northwest Hwy, Palatine, IL 60067
GLENVIEW – Glenview Cycle, 1011 Harlem Avenue, Glenview, IL 60025
EVANSTON – The Home Depot (on Oakton Street), 2201 Oakton Sr, Evanston, IL 60091
New Location: EVANSTON/SKOKIE – St. Joan of Arc School, 9245 Lawndale Ave, Evanston 60203
Your donations are tax deductible, you will motivate and reward a deserving child, you will have a cleaner garage, and you will give that bike a new purpose!
If you have questions, you can visit www.gopedalpower.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Please feel free to forward this information on to others to help spread the word!