Dec 11, 2007


{WORDS DAVE HULL - Customer Services}

Turning Wheels, the San Francisco 49ers and Raleigh team up to provide bikes to needy kids in the Bay Area.

On Monday Dec 10th I traveled to San Jose to participate in the 2nd annual 49ers Holiday Bike Build. This event is organized by Turning Wheels, a charity that coordinates donations of bikes to needy kids. The San Francisco 49ers donated player and staff time to the event, and also garnered some valuable media coverage for both Raleigh and Turning Wheels. Next week, several members of the volunteer staff are traveling to New Orleans to build and donate Raleigh bikes for kids affected by Hurricane Katrina. This is a great organization with dedicated people – all volunteers.

The day started early at the 49ers’ practice facility in San Jose. Volunteers from the Turning Wheels charity unload the DB “Grinds” and “Miz Della Cruz.”

The build party took place outside the 49ers practice building. The team had just suffered another loss on Sunday, so we were a little concerned they might not be in a happy frame of mind.

We had no reason to be concerned. Players trickled out a few at a time and grabbed the tools and started building. It was amusing to see a 200 lb lineman like Brandon Moore building a Miz Della Cruz. And these guys took things seriously!

This is punt returner Michael Lewis. 5 years ago Michael was driving a beer truck in New Orleans. He made the Saints as a walk-on, and now plays for the 49ers. He made the party into a competition, and harassed the other players when they made a mistake. Shortly after this photo was taken, Michael initiated a bike race on the lawn. I was holding my breath watching 3 NFL players sprinting on the Miz Della Cruz. Luckily, the coach was not around.

Michael told me he had assembled bikes for his nieces and nephews. He obviously knew what he was doing. He and I put 5 bikes together. Local news crews were on hold to cover the event.

Donations for the bikes come from various companies in the San Jose area. Raleigh supplies the bikes at cost or below, and then Turning Wheels coordinates with other charities to find deserving kids and distribute the bikes.

Bill Hyland, owner of local Raleigh dealership Hyland Cycles, arrived with a crew of 3 to help with the build party. This was their day off.

The event was a huge success – we assembled 49 girls’ bikes and 49 boys’ bikes. Each bike got a 49ers sticker and lanyard. Saturday Jeff Kazan (Raleigh/Diamondback Territory manager) and Joe Latino (Raleigh/Diamondback Regional Manager) will participate in the main build party – over 1800 bikes will be built with the help of local volunteers.


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