On June 19 the United Way’s Build-A-Bike event once again rolled into Heinz Field and the Made in PGH team, under the moniker “Built 42”, built two bikes for two very excited and adorable kids. Our brake from the office to serve as roll models was a nice shift from work-as-usual.
The event kick(stand)ed off with the departure of the United Way’s former spokes-man and CEO Bob Nelkin as he handed over the baton-in-wrench-form to the new CEO Bobbi Watt Geer. Soon after her introduction the kids came pouring in and the room brimmed with energy. To compare it to the donated Huffy bicycles we were building: The level of excitement rose from about a 12” bike height to 16” –which, to a kid, is a world of difference.
Within 2 hours the 75 teams comprised of 400+ volunteers worked with the 150 kids to build each kid a brand new, just-out-of-the-box bicycle. The volunteers came from organizations and corporations from across Allegheny, Westmoreland, and Butler counties. The kids came from South Hills Interfaith Movement, Butler County Children’s Center, Boys and Girls Club McKeesport, Boys and Girls Club Duquesne, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Laurel Highlands. But no matter where they came from or what age they were everyone shared in the fun of finagling bike parts until they were aligned in the right place and properly tightened.
Once a bike was built it was hard keeping the kids off of them. The kids had to endure waiting for a bike expert to check it for safety and a police office to fit them with a helmet. Then they had to patiently wait as they walked their bikes outside for its first time ride –which, for a kid, is like making them hold their dessert while forcing them to eat their vegetables.
One of the best parts of the day was actually something which wasn’t planned in advance. It just so happened that the Mid-Atlantic Police Motorcycle Rodeo was taking place outside of Heinz Field at the same time. Their generosity afforded the kids a memorable inaugural bike ride — the kids got to ride their bikes thru the motorcycle police obstacle course cones. A pelaton of kids pedaled, steered, and smiled with joy as they wove down and around the course on the closed road just outside of the stadium.
The kids reluctantly let the grown-ups put their bikes away and headed off to a bike riding safety session. From there the volunteers headed back up to the Heinz Field Suite for a social hour with drinks and hor d’ourves — which, for an adult, is like adding fun on top of fun.
As the day downshifted the Built 42 team discussed how we wouldn’t have chain-ged a thing about the day and how we can’t wait to do it again next year.