Bikes for Kids Winners

Meet the winners of our 2020 Bikes for Kids Giveaway!

You’ll notice a conspicuous lack of bicycles in these photos. Because of the nation-wide bicycle shortage, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Chuck decided to treat each of the winners to a fun experience at the Toledo Zoo. As soon as Wersell’s Bike Shop can get them in, we’ll give each child their bike.

Alexzander Bartlett

You rarely meet a young man as sweet as Alex Bartlett. Alex is 10 years old and lives in Oregon with his mom, dad, and brother, Anthony. We were honored to host Alex, Anthony and mom, Trisha, at the Toledo Zoo for our last Bikes for Kids of the year. Alex’s mom Trisha nominated him for Bikes for Kids and in her letter, she talked about Alex’s deep empathy and kindness.

Trisha told us that whenever Alex sees a homeless veteran, he begs them to stop so he can give them money, water, and food. Trisha said they now keep a case of water in their vehicle specifically for that purpose. In our conversations at the Zoo, we learned that Alex has overcome so many different things. He has certain disabilities and autism. The family also lost everything in a house fire two years ago.

But Alex still wakes up every day with a smile and a readiness to help others. Trisha said, he is the sweetest most caring 10-year-old she has ever known. He is extremely passionate and empathetic toward every living thing. He is an amazing young man with a huge heart who is going to do so much good in this world! We need more people like him!

Myla Brickner

A few months ago, spunky six-year-old Myla Brickner was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Since the diagnosis, her family’s world has been turned upside down. Myla has struggled with pain, rare side effects, chemotherapy, and frequent trips to the hospital.

All the while, she is being a trooper and works hard to keep a smile on her face. While this disease and the treatments have weakened her body, her spirit remains indomitable.

Myla was nominated by a family friend who fought the exact same type of leukemia about five years ago! He said her positive attitude has been an inspiration to him. She certainly has been to us! Once Myla is well enough, we can’t wait to see her sailing down the road with a big grin on her face.

Lily’ann (Lily) Evans

Even behind a mask, you can tell that Lily has yet to meet a stranger. At just seven years old, she is precocious, smart, and full of joy. Her mom, Tierra, says she has a huge heart and a wonderfully positive outlook on life.

Lily has always wanted to ride a bicycle, but a rare genetic disease has caused her to grow much faster than other children her age, leading to serious complications. It also led to a tumor on Lily’s pituitary gland, which was removed this past year.

Lily’s mom says she has been saving for a three-wheeled bicycle for Lily, but the COVID-19 crisis has put tremendous stress on their family. We are delighted to be able to give Lily a three-wheeled bike of her own so she can enjoy time outside with her friends!

Madison Mendoza

Madison’s mom, Jessica, describes Madison as, “… a selfless kid, [she] will always help me out with her three younger siblings.” Jessica is a single mom who works full-time while raising her four kids. At only nine years old, Madison is always ready to help in any way she can.

Even at the Zoo, we could see Madison watching over her siblings, making sure they each had a turn. Madison has a contagious, mischievous smile under her mask, and she has a deep love of animals. Her favorite animal is the Red Panda! While it took a minute for her to warm up to Emerson, we think they came to a healthy understanding.

Madison has never been able to ride a bike, and at nearly 5’7”, she now needs a full-sized bike to get rolling. Jessica says Madison has been the target of bullying because of her height, but with her new bike, we hope she will be able to leave the bullies in the dust.

Virginia Michael

Sixteen-year-old Virginia has been beating the odds for most of her life. Virginia was born with spastic cerebral palsy and was also diagnosed with ADHD and cognitive delays.

Virginia’s mother, Kathy, told us that since childhood, Virginia has progressed from an army crawl to walking with a walker, to running, to even a turning a cartwheel! Knowing her past challenges, to see Virginia walking confidently through the Toledo Zoo is amazing. It is also a testament to this family’s fierce love and tenacity.

Kathy told us when they taught Virginia to ride a bike, she quickly grew impatient with her training wheels and small bike. She quickly threw it down, picked up her sister Victoria’s bike, and buzzed away! We are so excited to get Virginia a bike of her own. And I believe she requested a bright purple one!

Reed Ponton

Reed was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in January of this year. Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is a muscle-wasting disease that will likely cause him to be wheelchair-bound in the next five years. Reed is only seven.

While Reed is a shy one, he is so strong and faces each day with bravery and determination. Reed loves riding his bike with his two brothers, but due to the disease’s rapid progression, it is now almost impossible for him to ride. Sometimes, his brothers push him so he can still ride!

We are working with Reed’s parents and his physical therapists to buy him an adaptive bike that will help him have fun with his brothers and will even help him at school. Our hope is that this bike will give Reed a bit of independence back and will help him as he and his family do all they can to fight this disease.

Jacob Smith

Three-year-old Jacob Smith is the closest thing we’ve ever seen to a perpetual motion machine! He has so much energy, I recently heard the energizer bunny is going to retire.

We were so happy to host Jacob, his sister, mom, and dad at the Zoo for a much-needed day outside. The very next day was Jacob’s birthday, so it was quite a treat for everyone.

Jacob has a speech delay, so his only way to interact and communicate is through body language and physical interactions. Jacob’s mom, Andrea said being isolated because of COVID has been an especially rough time for him. Not only did he lose the ability to play with his friends, but he also lost a means of communication.

Luckily, Jacob loves to play outside more than anything else, and he was mesmerized by the baby tortoises. Having a bicycle will give Jacob the chance to work out his energy, engage with his peers, and enjoy a little freedom. For Jacob, a bike is more than just a toy, it will be a way for him to communicate and make friends.

Maisie Taylor

Maisie is a bright and fearless five-year-old, with a sparkle in her eye! We were so happy to welcome Maisie and her step-mother, Emily, to the Toledo Zoo. Maisie’s mom, Michele, was unwell and could not attend.

In her nomination of Maisie, Michele described Maisie as “a kind, caring, and genuine soul”, who has helped keep up Michelle’s spirits during recent tough times. Like many others, Michele is a single mom who lost her job due to the pandemic. She says Maisie is the one who keeps her going. She even presented Michelle with the money from her piggy bank and included Michelle’s job search in her nightly prayers.

Michelle says, “there’s only one little girl who can stop my tears, make the saddest person smile, and spread kindness expecting nothing in return.” We can’t wait to see Maisie zooming around on her new bike!

Eden Tillman

Eden is 10 years old and was born with Cornelia de Lange syndrome, a developmental disorder that affects many parts of her body. While she cannot hear and does not speak, don’t be fooled by what you see. Eden is a firecracker!

As we spent time with Eden, her mom, Andrea, and her sister Raven, we were able to see much of her personality emerge. Eden LOVES animals, and especially reptiles! When she saw a milk snake, she was mesmerized. When Eden wasn’t keen on one of the animals, she made her disapproval known!

According to Andrea, Eden loves to run (when she wants to!), play, and get into all kinds of mischief. Eden has a busy mind! We were honored to be able to host Eden, Andrea, and Raven at the Toledo Zoo. We are especially excited to be able to gift Eden and Andrea a special adaptive bike. This will allow the family to get out of the house more and give Eden a chance to exercise those speedy legs!

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