Local businesses donate $30K for bikes for use in PE classes

By Ken Lay

It was a typical fall morning but kindergarten students at Lonsdale Elementary School had plenty of reason for celebration just after school began Tuesday.

Lonsdale was the first of the five schools selected to receive 24 bicycles from All Kids Bikes thanks to a $30,000 donation from Kroger and Coca-Cola Consolidated in Knoxville.

The five schools will also receive two adult bicycles for instructors and helmets and educational materials. Students also received backpacks filled with non-perishable food items.

Some kindergarten students came to the school parking lot where they were greeted by Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs and a Coca-Cola truck.

After some brief opening remarks, Jacobs asked the students to chant “Move that truck,” and the bikes were unveiled. The students ran toward the bikes in a rapid but orderly fashion as music played from a sound system.

“This was great,” Jacobs said. “It was great to see kids having a good time because young kids are under so much stress these days. Physical activity, riding bikes — studies show that has a big impact, so I’m thrilled that folks stepped up.”

Lonsdale was the first stop in a day that saw bikes delivered to four other elementary schools including, Amherst, Blue Grass, Christenberry and Northshore.

The donation gives kindergartners at those schools an opportunity to learn how to ride a bike as bike riding instruction will be incorporated into the physical education curriculum.

Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jon Rysewyk was also on hand. He and Jacobs rode the instructors’ bikes after the seats were raised to accommodate their heights.

“It’s amazing. The kids are so excited about the big surprise,” Jacobs said. “It’s really cool to see these kids and their eyes light up.”

Like Jacobs, Rysewyk said that the students would benefit greatly from the new bikes and the change in curriculum.

“As a kid, riding bikes is a rite of passage,” Rysewyk said. “We’re excited about the confidence that this gives our students.”

He also expressed gratitude for those who made this happen.

“We’re blessed to live in a community where education and schools are important,” Rysewyk said. “So many of the corporate people that we talked to today are related to a teacher, or have students who are in our system.

“This is what makes our community thrive when both corporates can work together with schools to help raise the next generation so Knox County thrives for a long time.”