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How Richmond Area Bicycling Association is giving kids 'ticket to freedom'

Richmond Area Bicycling Association's Spring Fling Bike/Walk is Sunday
How Richmond Area Bicycling Association is giving kids 'ticket to freedom'
Posted at 11:43 AM, Apr 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-02 13:12:25-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The Richmond Area Bicycling Association's (RABA) 5th annual Spring Fling Bike/Walk fundrasier will take place Sunday because of the rainy and windy weather on Saturday.

For more than 20 years, RABA has worked behind the scenes to give back to local communities.

“We have a project every year that we call Bikes for Kids. We raise money, we buy brand new bikes and then we work with the area Christmas Mother and other non-profit groups to give the bikes away,” RABA President Andrew Mann explained.

This year the organization, which donated more than 500 bikes to kids last year, is partnering with the Richmond Cycling Corps, a non-profit that uses cycling as a tool to engage young people in Richmond’s East End.

“We have mountain bike racing teams," Mann said. "We do after school mentoring and tutoring and then we do relevant outreach and whatever is required for the students that we’re working with.”

The Bikes for Kids ride, which is now called Spring Fling, got its start with the Richmond Cycling Corps.

“So it's really nice that we're completing the circle because it was a charity ride that we had started back when we were in Scott’s Addition,” Richmond Cycling Corps Director of Programs Ryan Hamlet said.

And for the kids Hamlet works with, it is a benefit for them and the community.

“A bike is really a ticket to freedom for a lot of these kids. It empowers them to explore their neighborhoods, go outside," Hamlet explained. "We all know the benefits of riding have a lot of physical and mental benefits for our students."

How Richmond Area Bicycling Association is giving kids 'ticket to freedom'

The ride traverses from theRichmond Community Tool Bankto the center of the Universe in Ashland and back.

“The Tool Bank partners with non-profit groups," Mann said. "They rent tools to groups like us and other nonprofits for a really low price and then they have a series of projects that they themselves put on. We partner with the Tool Bank on our big bike assembly. We store the bikes here in the wintertime — and it's just a great location that's easy to ride out of."

Sunday’s fundraiser starts at 10 a.m. and you can still register on the day of the ride. You can also walk 3 to 4 miles or you can donate funds on RABA’s website.

“So if you've got a bike, you've got a helmet and you are up for riding 34 miles, come out and join us," Mann said. “Every dollar you contribute, goes directly into buying brand-new bikes and brand-new helmets.

The work is a labor of love for Mann and his team. His dream is for kids to wake up on Christmas morning with a new bike.

“Everybody can remember back to the first bike they got," Mann said. "That first taste of freedom to get on your bike and be able to get out and ride wherever you want.”

Click here for more information about the Spring Fling or to make a donation to RABA.