How a group of cyclists are making Christmas special for hundreds of children

Posted at 11:08 AM, Nov 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-05 18:37:42-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- There are no stockings, Santa or sleigh in sight. But at the Richmond Area Bicycling Association, it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

“It is one of the best events of the whole year.”

Andrew Mann and Ed Hellermann are members of the RABA who are working harder than elves.

"That gives me those butterflies and sense of accomplishment and support," said Ed.

They’ve been waiting months for this day and trailer to arrive.

Inside boxes of Christmas magic. Bikes, hundreds of them, delivered not from the North Pole but New Jersey.

The cycles are destined for children whose families cannot afford them.

“Man, I tell you this is awesome. These are going to be the small boys bikes,” said Ed. “These are going to be the ones for three-to-six year olds.”

Andrew Mann, a lifelong cyclist from Hanover, has been cranking out the bike bonanza for a dozen years.

“I think we all remember back to that Christmas to that first bike you ever got,” said Andrew. “It is your first taste of freedom. It is your first mode of transportation.”

RABA members work year-round to make this tradition a success.

“Each year we raise close to $25,000,” said Ed.

Volunteers will assemble the bikes, big and small, in early November. Once the bikes are built, they will be delivered to Christmas Mothers across central Virginia.

“These are the first bikes a kid will have,” said Andrew.

“You know it feels so good to give back to the community we ride our bikes in.”

Andrew, Ed, and other members lament never meeting the children on the receiving end of their gifts.

“As far as they’re concerned the bikes come from Santa Claus,” said Andrew.

Still, the thought of providing so much joy keeps them pedaling year after year.

“This is going to be awesome for the kids to have a new bike on Christmas day,” Ed added.

The RABA bicycle giveaway is a two-wheeled Christmas tradition rolling right along that always gets these cyclists pumped.

“Its all for that feeling, knowing those kids will wake up Christmas morning... It makes that warm fuzzy feeling in my heart,” said Andrew.

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