SACO, Maine – An inaugural ride held today on the Eastern Trail capped off the successful fund raising work of Saco Bikes For Kids and showcased 25 new trail bikes for Saco Parks & Recreation to use in its summer camp and afterschool programs.
“Today we celebrate the business leaders and citizens who supported our campaign. One year ago we mobbed 400 kids and camp counselors onto the John R. Andrews Bridge over Route One and kick-started our community outreach. Throughout the summer and fall as we knocked on doors, distributed email alerts, and posted Facebook updates, we encountered many fans of the Eastern Trail and Saco Parks & Rec. Thanks to our strong community support, local kids will spend many summers enjoying the special treasure of the Eastern Trail,” said Representative Justin Chenette, a founding organizer of Saco Bikes for Kids.
The 25 Diamondback Trail Bikes were purchased from Quinn’s Bike Shop on Elm Street in Biddeford. The bikes were selected for boys and girls ages 8-11.
“We organize our camp programs into teams. Throughout the summer, teams will take turns exploring different sections of the Eastern Trail. We plan to bus the kids and trailer the bikes to a starting location. Then the bus will drive ahead and pick up the kids after they travel off-road sections of the trail at various spots between Kennebunk and Scarborough,” said Kevin Lombard, program director for Saco Parks & Recreation.
The campaign was supported by 46 contributors, as well as a penny fundraiser organized by the kids at Saco Parks & Recreation. Major corporate donors included:
General Dynamics; Peoples Choice Credit Union; Hannaford; Saco & Biddeford Savings; Pate Motor Co.; Garland Manufacturing Company; Norway Savings Bank; TD Bank; Saco Valley Credit Union; Bangor Savings Bank; and Paquin & Carroll Insurance.
“Bike skills, safety appreciation of nature, and physical activity are a few of the benefits that hundreds of children will now have access to. All bikes are equipped with bottle holders and each rider receives a helmet. We also purchased tools for any repairs that are needed on the trail,” said Bob Hamblen, president of the Eastern Trail Alliance.
Saco Bikes for Kids was founded in July of 2012 as an ongoing collaborative project with the goal of getting the next generation active on the Eastern Trail. In addition to Chenette and Hamblen, Saco resident Melissa Field is a founder. Joe Hirsch, Director of Saco Parks & Recreation, along with Lombard, also helped organize key aspects of the project.
Plans for another initiative, one involving technology, are underway and will be announced in the near future.
"While it took us a year to complete this project in full, we are looking towards the future at other ways of getting our next generation active on the Eastern Trail and in our community," says Chenette.