A gift that keeps on giving

Thursday, February 21, 2019
Three students in sixth grade at MMCRU Middle School received adaptive tricycles from the Josh’s Ride organization on Friday, February 8, 2019. Pictured above, the three students get ready to have a race to test out their new bikes with some help from their older brothers. The students pictured above on their new bikes, from left: McCartney Pierce, AJ Russell, and Brayden Miller. Back row of older brothers, from left: Drew Pierce, Robert Russell, and Jesse Perez.
(Photo by Megan Sabin)

REMSEN — “Have any of your heard of Josh’s Ride?” Beth Meyers, one of the moms running the Plymouth County-based nonprofit, asked a gymnasium full of students at MMCRU Middle School.

Among their classmates, three sixth graders — AJ Russell, Brayden Miller, and McCartney Pierce — had no idea they were about to receive specialty-designed adaptive tricycles.

“What I want you to take away from this today is do good,” Meyers told her young audience. “There is always a spot to feel. Sometimes, you don’t know if there’s something you can do, but we’re here to tell you, to show you, that you can do it.”

Kids ranging from elementary through 8th grade listened intently from the bleachers as Meyers shared their story.

“About four years ago, Kim (Koons) had entered her son Josh into a contest for a bicycle, an adaptive bicycle. It’s a special bicycle that has three wheels and it pedals slowly so Josh could ride. Prior to that, Josh couldn’t ride a bicycle,” Meyers explained. “She was hoping that he could win this bicycle and that they wouldn’t have to push him in a stroller any longer. The bicycles are quite expensive.”

Unfortunately, Josh did not win the contest, but Kim’s friends refused to wait for another opportunity to get Josh the mobility he craved.

“I thought, ‘it can’t be that hard to raise money, right?’” Meyers shared. “Our goal amount was $2,000. We started calling all our friends, asking for money. And guess what? We got the money — we got a lot of money, enough for two bicycles.”

The students were on the edge of their seats as Meyers described how she and their friends gave the extra money to the Koons family who then decided other kids like Josh could benefit from similar bikes.

“Four years ago, Josh’s ride started,” Meyers said. “That year, we gifted three bicycles. We were feeling pretty darn good about themselves. We raised almost $6,000 that first year to buy three bicycles. The second year, we gifted 10 and we were feeling even better.”

Looking up into the many young, excited faces, Meyers explained how just as they set goals in school, the organizers of Josh’s Ride set a goal to gift another 10 bikes their third year.

“In May, we gifted our 20th bike. We were getting there,” she said. “Fast forward to this past December and we gifted our 46th bike.”

Cheers erupted in the gym, echoing off the walls and basketball court.

“We want you here because we want you to encourage them,” Meyers told the students. “Do you know what encouragement means? It means to give courage. We need to give our friends courage because this is something new to them.”

With excitement rising amongst the middle schoolers, Meyers shared their awe in the many lives the organization has touched since its inception.

“We literally never set out to do this, and yet, we’ve gifted almost 50 bikes,” she said. “We didn’t think there was a need in our community this great, that this many kids couldn’t ride a bicycle.”

The kids were on the edge of their seats as Meyers announced, “What we’re going to do today is we’re going to help three of our friends ride bicycles.”

Three adaptive tricycles were rolled onto the gym floor as Meyers asked the recipients to join her center court. Surprise and joy painted the expressions of Russell, Miller, and Pierce as they were joined by family while they were fitted to their new bikes.

It didn’t take long before the three sixth graders were racing from the court’s freethrow line.