$10K grant provides bikes for 99 Lenihan students

At Lenihan Intermediate School Saturday morning, 99 faces wore 99 smiles.

Staff from Lenihan and nonprofit Variety provided 99 bikes, helmets and padlocks to children at the school. The Martha Ellen Tye Foundation funded the program with a $10,000 grant.

Karn Gregoire, executive director of the Martha Ellen Tye Foundation, said the program fits with the philanthropic organization’s mission statement.

“Part of our mission statement is striving to improve the lives of the citizens of Marshalltown,” Gregoire said. “This certainly fits within the scope of our mission.”

Additionally, the program bolsters Marshalltown’s health initiative, Gregoire said. Because Lenihan is a neighborhood district, many of the fifth and sixth grade students would likely be able to ride their new bikes to school.

Lenihan and Variety staff worked to identify students who were without bikes or who have bikes they have outgrown or that have fallen into disrepair, said Liz Jurgensen, associate principal at Lenihan.

The kids’ reactions make it worthwhile, Jurgensen said.

“We get to see happy families and happy kids get awarded a bike, a helmet and a lock,” she said. “We are excited to provide students with recreation but also tips on how to be safe.”

Last year, Rogers Elementary hosted the program.

Andrea Nutt said her fifth grade daughter, Kia, couldn’t stop talking about the bike once she heard the school would be giving her one. Kia had a bike, but she had grown out of it.

Nutt said the program is helpful to families like hers.

“It takes some of the burden off me because I can’t afford to buy her one right now,” Nutt said.

Shelton Gayetay, 10, said he planned to take his bike out Saturday. His father, Bill, called the program “awesome.” He applauded the Marshalltown community’s effort to continue focusing on teaching children the value of education.

Education initiatives unite the community, Gayetay said.