Students surprised with free bikes

Second grader Joseph Morales, 8, right, puts his helmet on backwards as he checks out his brand new bike in the gymnaisum during the 16th anniversary of Academy Sports + Outdoors' bike donation program at Salem Elementary School in Apex, NC, December 8, 2017. Morales was one of 30 deserving students to receive a bike at Salem and one of 5,100 kids across the country in different locations. (Eamon Queeney / North State Journal)

APEX – At Salem Elementary in Wake County thirty students will have an even happier holiday after they were surprised with new wheels in a school assembly.  The giveaway was a reward for students who demonstrated good character, academic performance, and positive behavior.

“Seeing the look on the faces of the students when the winners of the bikes were announced was incredibly emotional for all of us,” said Salem Elementary School Principal Derrick Evans. “The winners were wildly excited to be receiving a bike. Those who did not win were happy for their classmates.”

Salem Elementary has about 575 students from a variety of economic and cultural backgrounds from Apex and neighboring Raleigh. As the winners were announced, they got high-fives from their classmates on their way to the stage.  Some were getting their first bike ever.

“We all remember dreaming of getting a bike as children. All of the winners received the bikes as recognition for good character, and the students felt proud that they were a positive example for others,” said Evans.

Academy Sports and Outdoors provided the bikes as part of their annual December giveaway.  This year they held 115 similar events in sixteen states across the country throughout December. In all, the company gave away more than $250,000 worth of bikes and helmets to 5,100 kids.

“The bike donation fits with Academy’s active-minded philosophy by rewarding kids with gifts that allow them to get outside and be active,” said communications specialist Shane Carlisle.

Public schools across the state take donations from individuals and companies each year. From cash to cars to used computers, Wake County Public School System reports that, in total, county schools get approximately $1 million annually in donations.  They recommend that companies seeking to donate to an area school contact the school to find out what they need. In this case, Evans said the partnership with Academy Sports and Outdoor was a great way to welcome them to the Apex community.

“We don’t need rewards to encourage good character. Good character starts with the role models that students have at home and school. However, events like this help us send a message that encouraging good character is a priority for us as a school community,” said Evans.