TurningWheels for Kids is committed to bring joy into the lives of children through the simple at of providing new bicycles during the holiday season to every underprivileged and health challenged child in Santa Clara County. Click the flyer below to download the pdf.
SAN JOSE — The driveway was still damp from a week’s worth of rain when Jim Schallau, an avid cyclist, led two teenage boys into the garage for their early Christmas gifts — two new mountain bikes still in the cardboard boxes.
Isidro and Jesus Cazarez beamed and touched the boxes a bit awkwardly, not sure what to do next. The boxes didn’t bear gift tags or any markings they were donated by TurningWheels for Kids, a charity that expects to give 2,700 bikes to low-income children this season.
“But you have to help me put them together,” Schallau said.
“Of course we’ll help,” said Isidro, a talkative 16-year-old.
And with that agreement, the retired engineer and Korean War veteran with 98,000 cycling miles behind him, got to work assembling the bicycles with the two low-income boys from across town who had never owned a decent bike until Saturday morning. The last one they shared was stolen years ago.
“We kind of gave up on bikes after that,” Isidro said.
The bikes were assembled in a couple of hours with extra help from Marge Schallau, Jim’s wife and cycling companion, and Tony Le, a Stanford Medical School researcher and president of the Amaden Cycle Touring Club.
Not only did the boys learn some of the mechanics of bicycle ownership, they heard all sorts of cycling tales from Le and the Schallaus, from touring across beautiful countrysides to surviving crashes. The latter were meant to persuade the boys to wear their new helmets, which came with the bikes.
“You don’t have to worry about me,” Isidro, who told them a story of his own. A girl he knew back in 5th grade was killed in a collision with a car. “She wasn’t wearing a helmet. All the kids in school were shaken up.”
After a test ride, the boys were ready to go.
Lots of children will receive their TurningWheels bikes from nonprofit organizations that work directly with low-income families and select the recipients. This year, the charity, started by Santa Clara Valley Medical Center nurse Sue Runsvold, introduced a nomination process for individuals, clubs and others. That’s how the Cazarez boys got their bikes.
The Schallaus met their mother, Martina Palomino, about 14 years ago through a program at Sacred Heart Community Services in San Jose that connects needy families with volunteers willing to help in personal and practical ways.
“I was pregnant with Jesus when they adopted me!” Palomino, 38, said in Spanish in a telephone interview. “It has been the greatest blessing in my life to have met this couple.”
She said the Schallaus have taught her how to supervise her sons’ homework assignments and motivate them to succeed in school, navigate bureaucracies, hunt for affordable housing and manage her modest finances.
“I have known their family for 14 years and theirs has been a tough life,” Jim Schallau wrote in a touching, winning nomination to TurningWheels. “Their father has not been part of the family for many years and their mother struggles to provide a home and food for the boys. . . I am certain that new bikes for Isidro and Jesus will make this a Christmas that they and their mother will never forget.”
LOTS OF ASSEMBLING
Palomino cleans houses and cares for an elderly, housebound man on weekends. She and the boys live in an apartment in south San Jose. The two families have stayed in touch even after the program that brought them together ended.
Jim Schallau had been volunteering to assemble bikes for TurningWheels for eight years, never getting to see kids when they actually received their bikes. So he jumped at the chance to nominate the Cazarez boys.
“These bikes will get the boys to school and will help their mother, too,” he said.
Palomino said she often has to interrupt her cleaning jobs to drive Isidro to school, where he is enrolled in independent studies and doesn’t follow a traditional schedule.
“I’m always asking her for rides to meet my friends,” Isidro said as he straddled his shiny, new black 21-speed bike. “I can tell when she’s too tired and irritated, but she drives me anyway. This will definitely help my mom.”
And the bikes will help the two families continue their friendship. Their first official ride together would be to look for the safest routes from the boys’ home to their schools, followed by long rides on South Bay bike trails and bike paths. But for now, the boys were relishing their new wheels.
“It’s cool,” Jesus said after his first test ride, “really cool.”
Contact Joe Rodriguez at 408-920-5767. Follow him at Twitter.com/joerodmercury.
Nobody does it quite like @google. @turningwheels4kids Thanks you for building 90 bikes for @boysandgirlsclub #southbay. I knew it was gonna be a wonderful day when it started out with Gandalf guarding my parking spaces..#google#boysandgirlsclub #southbay #turningwheelsforkids#charity #christmas #christmasbikes #gandalf — atGoogle Campus.
It’s been said many times before, and I’ll say it here again. When you give, you get so much more in return and in such unexpected ways that simply go straight to fulfilling your heart with blissful goodness. Today inside a HUGE tent next to San Jose Convention Center, the folks at Turning Wheels For Kids and their sponsors worked passionately and tirelessly to build thousands of bikes for underprivileged kids. It’s the organization’s annual Big Bike Build day for the Christmas holiday, and I was completely blown away by the well-oiled operation, which says a lot about the people who come together to make it all happen. I had heard about the program from my sister and her husband but I wasn’t prepared for anything close to what I expected until I stepped inside the tent.
There are so many worthy causes, and it’s not always easy to choose. This one, however, has an inspiring story by an amazing woman, a personal all-around feel good involvement that is absolutely priceless, and an impressive organization. I’ve done my share of annual giving back to the community over the years, and I have to say I was really impressed with Turning Wheels for Kids. Within a few minutes of being there today, I became a fan!
I love the cause from this organization, what it stands for, and what it does for children. I love it even more that my family is involved, especially my two wonderful nieces whom were recruited by their stepdad to help out today. I don’t even know how to take care of a flat tire (sad but true), yet, my 11 and 13 year old nieces were working next to their uncle building bikes while the girls’ stepdad double-checked things before the bikes were turned over to the official quality control area.
What started out as one woman’s wish to give bikes as presents to children for Christmas has snowballed into an incredible cause for the community to come together to not only help make her wish a reality but to take it to a level beyond that initial planted seed over 10 years ago. Other than what I am sharing here about this amazing woman, Sue Runsvold, more information can be found on the organization’s website. Thanks to her, thousands and thousands of children in the community have been blessed to receive one of the coolest Christmas presents, not just bikes but love from a kind-hearted stranger. Magic happened today, as it has been for over 10 years.
We are so excited to announce our Pre-Registration and Open Registration schedule for our 2014 Big Bike Build. Due to the popularity of our event, in the same vein as last year, we are offering two different types of registration for both our San Jose and Tri-Valley Locations. This time around, we are introducing a new software for registration called Eventbrite. After a lot of research, we felt this site was user-friendly and a perfect way to manage our participants. We hope you think so too… We have also created a HOW-TO TUTORIAL via our website: 2014 BBB Registration Guide. We HIGHLY recommend you watch this prior to registering as there are a few different ways to operate the site depending upon whether you are signing-up as a San Jose/Tri-Valley Participant or as an individual or team. If you are experiencing any difficulties please feel free to contact us at 408-885-5205 or via email at email@example.com.
Pre-Registration for the 2014 Big Bike Build will be open for ONE WEEK ONLY starting at 8 a.m. on Friday, October 17th, 2014 and closing at 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 25th, 2014. This registration is available to all (individuals, corporations, charities, ect.) who would like to secure a spot or team by making a tax-deductible $100 per person donation to TurningWheels For Kids. If you would like to Pre-Register, PLEASE watch the tutorial mentioned above before you go to this link to register:
Open Registration will open at 10 a.m. Saturday, November 1st, 2014 and will close once all remaining spots are available. This is available for any who are not interested in pre-registration. Be Advised: These spots are limited and fill quickly. The Open-Registration Eventbrite link will be the same as the Pre-Registration link with one major caveat. Open registrants will not be able to access the “free” ticket until 10 a.m. on November 1st, 2014. REMINDER: There are a limited number of tickets, log on early or Pre-Register if that is possible. That pre-registration will provide 1 bike and a helmet!
If you or your organization are interested in being a sponsor for the 2014 Big Bike Build there are many opportunities for you to contribute. Please see the attachment below for specifics. Sponsorships can be paid via the eventbrite site or by check. 2014 Levels of Support Document If you have any further questions or need any assistance, please contact IgnacioVallejo, our newest TWFK go-to guy, at firstname.lastname@example.org