ORLANDO, Fla. – Dozens of Orlando area children are receiving free bicycles this Christmas thanks to a partnership between Orlando Police and Academy Sports + Outdoors.
Rafaela Lopes said a bike was on her 6-year-old daughter Julia’s wish list this year.
“This was the gift that she wanted. We are so happy and I’m beyond words,” Lopes said.
Lopes was one of dozens of families receiving the free bikes Saturday morning at Orlando Police headquarters. They picked up the bicycles and helmets donated by Academy Sports.
This marks the second year OPD and Academy Sports partnered together to get results and give back to the community.
School resource officers selected 50 first and second graders to receive the free bikes. Officers delivered hope on two wheels during what’s been a difficult year for many children and their families.
“I think this will bring some joy and hope that they know all though things may be a little different than how we’ve done them in the past, but still providing what they need and maybe what they want for Christmas,” OPD Deputy Chief James Young said.
The Solar Bears mascot “Shades” was also there putting smiles on kids’ faces.
Mike Reynolds with Academy Sports said this was part of a nationwide event. The sports goods store donated a total of 700 bikes across its stores.
Reynolds said they want to do their part to help families in need.
‘This has been a year just full of challenges so hopefully we can kind of put some smiles on the end as we go into 2021,” Reynolds said.
The children were excited to receive their bikes and were already planning their first ride. Lopes’ daughter, Julia, said she is going to ride around her house.
Parents, like Lopes, said they are grateful for the generosity.
“I have no words to say how this community comes together and does something like this. It was a very nice surprise,” she said.