In 2007, a Wilmette third grader named Nicole Basil thought it might be a good idea to collect bicycles kids didn’t need any more and build a charity around finding new homes for them.
It was a simple concept but the Pedal Power nonprofit that continues to thrive 12 years later is nothing short of sensational.
“My little third grade mind without any limitations said, why don’t we start our own charity?” says Basil, now a college student who has turned over operations to a pair of Wilmette Junior High School eighth graders.
Cailyn FitzGerald and her brother Owen say they are continuing the mission Basil started all those years ago—to collect outgrown and unused bikes from families around the North Shore and Western Suburbs and provide them to kids on the honor roll in the Chicago Public Schools.
With winter on the horizon, the siblings are gearing up for Pedal Power’s annual bike drive, to be held from 9 a.m. to noon on November 1 in Wilmette and throughout the North Shore.
“Today we are in 12 different towns with several sponsors who have all helped to make it possible,” Cailyn told The North Shore Weekend.
In addition to Wilmette, Pedal Power collection sites can be found in Northbrook, Glenview, Lake Forest, Winnetka, Evanston, Skokie, Libertyville, Palatine, Elmhurst, and Chicago.
“We have collected over 3,500 bikes in the past 10 years that are given to kids on the honor roll in the Chicago Public Schools,” she says, adding that the bikes donated are preferably in gently used condition and in good working order.
The main school to benefit from Pedal Power is Cesar Chavez Multicultural Academic Center. Bikes in need of repair are also donated to Northside Learning Center where the bike parts are used for educational purposes to help children with learning disabilities.
“I am so excited to be a part of Pedal Power this year and we’re working hard to make it the best year ever,” says Cailyn. “I hope everyone in the community will join in our mission and help spread the word about this important cause.”
For more information or to find a donation site in your area, visit gopedalpower.com.