There were free bicycles and helmets for children who attended Friday’s Great Bend Bicycle Safety Rodeo at Brit Spaugh Park.
As sponsors helped find a two wheeler that was just the right size for a 5-year-old boy named Devin, a family member helped sell him on a red bike by reminding him it was the same color as Spider-Man.
“Spider-Man!”, Devin agreed. “I know how to ride without no training wheels,” he added. “I’m going to ride my bike home.”
Actually, the next location for Devin and other children who received bicycles was to the shade tree a few yards away, where Donna Shaffer and others would fit them with bicycle helmets, which the children could also take home. The children had to wear helmets if they wanted to join one of the group rides around the park.
The ride took the children to five stations, and at each stop they would learn something about bicycle safety or hand signals. At the end of the route they received a snack and a drink.
“The course is all the way around the park,” Shaffer said. In years past, kids rode their bikes through an obstacle course set up in the baseball field. “We changed it this year and thought they’d have a lot more fun if they were actually riding.”
The bicycles children received looked new, but were actually refurbished old ones. Bicycles are repaired by inmates at the Ellsworth Correctional Facility for this purpose. Shaffer said area residents are welcome to bring old bikes to the Barton County Landfill and Landfill Director Mark Witt will ship the bikes to the prison.
Shaffer, office manager at the Barton County Health Department, organized the Bicycle Safety Rodeo, which was sponsored by the Great Bend Police Department, Barton County Sheriff’s Office, the health department and the landfill. She said 70 children were registered for Friday’s event. The event began in 2006 as a helmet giveaway and expanded after the landfill got involved with the Ellsworth Correctional Facility’s bike restoration program. Over the years, sponsors have praised the joint effort of area agencies for promoting safety and providing bikes and helmets to children who might not have been able to afford them otherwise. Even those who don’t need a free bike or helmet are encouraged to come for safety information.