Avon first and second graders receive the surprise of two wheels | VailDaily.com

Avon first and second graders receive the surprise of two wheels

100 bikes were donated by nonprofit Can’d Aid and built by employees of the Boulder-based frozen snack brand, Yasso

Kids can't contain their excitement when finding out they are getting new bikes through nonprofit organization Can’d Aid and Yasso Thursday at Avon Elementary School in Avon. First and second graders all received bikes.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

Avon Elementary School’s gym was filled with joyous screams on Thursday morning when 99 first and second graders were surprised with a bike (and helmet) of their own.

“With the high cost of housing and food, purchasing a new bike is out of the reach of many of our families,” said Dana Harrison, Avon Elementary’s principal. “For many students, it will be the first new bike they have ever had.”

The bikes were donated by nonprofit Can’d Aid and built by employees of the Boulder-based frozen snack brand, Yasso. Can’d Aid is a national nonprofit founded in Longmont as an immediate response to the floods that hit the Front Range in September 2013.

Through four broad program areas, Can’d Aid creates opportunities for people to “come out, roll up their sleeves and do good in their own community,” said Diane Ralston, the organization’s executive director.

Thursday morning’s event at Avon Elementary was part of Can’d Aid’s Treads and Trails program, which the organization created at the end of 2014 to combat the amount of time kids spend on their screens by giving them a reason to go outside. Following Thursday’s event, the nonprofit has built 6,610 bikes and skateboards for students across the country.

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Bikes waiting to be donated to first and second graders Thursday at Avon Elementary School in Avon.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

The program is two-fold. The first is a build event where community members build either bikes or skateboards. The second is a donation and education event where Can’d Aid provides either bikes or skateboards to underserved or at-risk youth.

Ralston said the event is all about empowering students and teaching them about the importance of moving their bodies.

“You can hear about ways to do things, but if you actually have the bike or the board and you can go do that in your community, it’s a great way to get outside and explore,” Ralston said. “It’s a great way of getting time off of those screens.”

In this case, the donation to Avon Elementary was initiated by the organization’s corporate partner, Yasso. The Boulder-based company was in Beaver Creek for a company offsite and “wanted to take advantage of having the whole company together to execute a powerful give-back moment,” said Kelsey Gill, Yasso’s director of marketing.

The Treads and Trails program is well aligned with the company’s own nonprofit mission. The Yasso Game On! Foundation’s mission is to “inspire health and happiness in people of all ages and provide resources and opportunities to get communities moving,” Gill said.

On Wednesday, the corporate group spent two hours building the 99 bikes for local students at The Westin in Avon.

For this program, Can’d Aid seeks to find schools with higher needs, serving lower-income communities with a high percentage of Free and Reduced Lunch recipients.

“In Colorado, in particular, people move here because they’re passionate about the outdoors. But if you didn’t grow up with somebody modeling that for you or if you don’t have the funds to have access to enjoy those activities, you’re really at a disadvantage,” Ralston said. “Can’d Aid works to eliminate those barriers, not just with Treads and Trails, but with music and the arts, just making sure that everybody has as much access as possible, so the kids who live here actually get to enjoy the outdoors as well.”

Professional mountain biker Jeff Lenosky does tricks and explains bike safety Thursday at Avon Elementary School.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

In addition to receiving their new bike and helmet, the students enjoyed a demo from Jeff Lenosky, a professional mountain biker. Between stories sharing the importance of bike safety (including wearing a helmet), staying active and following your dreams, Lenosky showed off some bike tricks including doing wheelies, hopping up and down the gymnasium’s stairs, and even jumping across Yasso and Can’d Aid employees.

“Our students all live in neighborhoods that are very bike friendly with bike paths nearby,” Harrison said. “Having a new bike and helmet will encourage our students and their families to spend more time outdoors in our beautiful community.”

In addition to the bikes for Avon Elementary’s first and second graders, all of the school’s students and staff received ice cream from Yasso.

“We are fortunate to live in a generous community that takes such great care of our children,” Harrison said.

To learn about Can’d Aid or volunteer at one of its community events, visit Candaid.org.

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