Fingers clenched around the handle bars, feet pressed firmly on the petals, the exhilarating feeling of whooshing past everything in sight — there’s nothing like riding a bike as a little kid. It’s a feeling — and memory — that a lot of us take for granted.
Not everyone has this opportunity. And thanks to South Carolina teacher Katie Blomquist, all of the students at Pepperhill Elementary School got a chance to experience riding a bike AND got their very own.
After discovering that one of her students had never ridden a bike before, Blomquist knew she had to do something.
“A bike provides a sense of freedom, a sense of escape, a sense of ownership, and more than anything a basic, untainted childhood joy,” Blomquist says.
So with that in mind, this sweet teacher set out on a mission to get a bike, not only for that student, but for her entire school. Blomquist created a GoFundMePage in honor of her beloved students titled “Every Kid Deserves a Bike!”
And in less than six months, Blomquist raised $80,000 to make her students’ dreams come true. With over 1,000 donations from all over the world, she was able to present the 650 students at Pepperhill with customized bikes, helmets, and locks.
Blomquist was motivated to take on this initiative because of how much bike riding meant to her as a kid. She and all of her neighborhood friends would spend hours riding around and simply enjoying childhood.
“I will never forget this one particular moment when I felt like I was pedaling as fast as a person possibly could and it felt so freeing,” Blomquist tells Babble. “I even remember the exact spot on the street I was on in that moment. Every child should feel that independence and freedom, like they can take on the world.”
According to Blomquist, it took seven long months of planning to complete her goal, but in the end, it proved to all be worth it when she was finally able to say to the entire student body, “And today, every single one of you is getting a brand new bike!!!”
And the kids, of course, were overjoyed. Blomquist told Babble that the students immediately started screaming, hugging each other, and jumping up and down. Their reactions were “more than [she] imagined,” and Blomquist made sure to soak in every scream, to never forget that moment.
And believe it or not, Blomquist is not stopping here. In addition to finishing up her fourth year teaching at Pepperhill Elementary, Blomquist has started her own charity, Going Places.
Their mission is to provide joy for low-income kids — whether through swim lessons, camp experiences, Halloween costumes, or a bike.
“There are already so many wonderful programs out there that provide things to low-income kids that they need (like clothing, food, shelter, etc.) but there isn’t a ton out there that provide things that low-income kids deserve simply because they are kids,” she says.
So that’s exactly what Blomquist plans to provide. Sure, it’s going to be a lot of work. But that work is going to make all the difference.
“To know that I did that, that I created something to spread so much joy and happiness, was truly the best feeling in the world,” Blomquist says. Well done!