Just in time for summer, the whole student body of Pepperhill Elementary School received an unforgettable gift: new bicycles for all. First-grade teacher Kate Blomquist decided to start a GoFundMe campaign so she could raise enough money to buy brand-new bikes for about 650 students who attend the school.
An Unforgettable Gift
A student, whose family could not afford to buy her a bike, motivated Blomquist to start the fundraising campaign. Her goal was to get every child at Pepperhill a bicycle by Christmas. To her surprise, Blomquist raised $80,000 over the course of about six months.
“I had no idea what I was getting into,” Blomquist told ABC affiliate WCIV-TV in Charleston, South Carolina. “And it became a thousand times more amazing than I ever dreamed. I didn’t really think about how much would go into it. I just thought, ‘Let me see if I can do this’ … I wanted to make family memories.”
To their surprise, in March 2017, all of the students at Pepperhill received a brand new bicycle. This is truly an unforgettable gift because being able to ride a bike is a right of passage for children. Without Blomquist, many of the children at the school would not be able to afford a new bicycle. Pepperhill Elementary is a Title 1 school and received extra federal funding for its students because many come from low-income families.
“This is a chance for them to truly own something of value. It’s a sense of therapy … It’s exercise. It’s a way of getting to school … But the number-one thing is it’s joy … Every single child deserves that.”
Kindness Still Exists
Blomquist started her GoFundMe campaign in September 2016. Initially, she received donations from South Carolina, but then the word spread. In the end, she received over 1000 donations from all around the U.S., and even one from France and one from Australia. In her interview with WCIV-TV, Blomquist stated:
“It just shows you that there is still kindness out there.
“It was actual people who gave actual, hard-earned money to [the students] to spread some joy … I hope that they take that feeling and they then, in turn, give back one day.”
Blomquist worked with a local bike shop called Affordabike to design and build all of the students’ bikes. They even came up with a name: “The future, let’s go places.” In addition, Affordabike gifted a matching bike lock for each student. Next step is for the school to install new bikes so students riding their bikes to school have a place to put them.
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