When Jeff Fleck started the Bikes for Tykes program, his hope was to deliver a simple gift to children in a place of darkness. The program reaches children who are victims of abuse or neglect in Douglas County and the south metro area.
The gift of a donated and refurbished bicycle is delivered through nonprofit agencies that serve children at risk. In its first year, the program served about 70 children in Douglas County.
This year, Castle Rock resident Fleck expanded his program to a warehouse near C-470. By mid-October, he had 1,000 bicycles collected for the 2012 holiday distribution season.
He can hardly wait to see the look on the faces of those first children who open the warehouse doors the day they arrive to select their bike.
“It's awesome, it's like riding a bike all over again for me,” Fleck said. “We all know the feeling of our first bicycle. We all know the feeling of freedom, almost the feeling of flight.”
Fleck started Bikes for Tykes when he watched his brother-in-law, Craig Secher, run Realities for Children, an outreach program in Larimer County. Secher helped Fleck launch Bikes for Tykes in 2009 and the program reaches families served by agencies that include the Douglas County Department of Human Services, the Women's Crisis and Family Outreach Center and the Douglas/Elbert Task Force.
The Bikes for Tykes program provides a great experience for the families it reaches, said Heather Orr, executive director, Women's Crisis and Family Outreach Center. The center serves victims of domestic violence in Douglas and Elbert counties and in 2011 reached 623 kids.
Each year Orr provides Fleck with a list of about 20 kids who hope for a bike for Christmas and, each year, Fleck delivers.
“What I really like is they understand the need for our confidentiality for our clients and they're really respectful of that.” Orr said. “Getting a bike is a pretty big deal especially for the younger kids. It gives them a chance to think about something else instead of what they're going through. It's a pretty generous donation.”
For more information about the Bikes for Tykes program visit www.bikesfortykescolorado.org.
Where to donate
Bikes for Tykes has partnered in 2012 with businesses in Castle Rock and Highlands Ranch to accept used bicycles for donations.
• In Castle Rock:
Castle Rock Bike and Ski, 725 Wilcox St., 303-688-1722
Country Pedaler Bikes and Skis, 203 Fifth St., 303-688-6775
• In Highlands Ranch;
BikeSource, 2690 E. County Line Road, 303-221-4840
Tax-deductible cash donations can be mailed to: Recycle Your Bicycle Fund, 2460 Switch Grass Way, Castle Rock, CO 80109.