Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Doing The Right Thing

This winter Christian Vande Velde called about some getting some bikes for the Chicago-area school system and a program designed to encourage all the values brought by bike riding and reward students for their hard work. The Vande Velde's are a cycling family and know well all the positives that come from riding. CVV's pop, John, - a former Olympian and elite cyclist himself for those too young to remember - was also a major proponent of the plan. This is how John describes it:

"The program is Principal for a Day (POD). It's one of Mayor Daley's pet projects. I think it's about 8 years old and the idea is that POD is supposed to build a lasting relationship with the school. There a lot of major corporations from Chicago that participate and give thousands of dollar's back to the school(s).

"Last year was our first year with POD and we were really moved by the whole experience. We do our thing at the University of Chicago Charter school. These kids have nothing going for them except their hard work ethics in school. The curriculum calls for a school day that goes from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. because they want to keep the kids off the street. The first year the kids didn't know who Christian or Lance Armstrong were and asked us "how do you play the game of cycling?"

"At the luncheon that followed, Mayor Daley was saying how proud he was of the individuals and corporations that were donating their efforts to the cause and that the POD's have to figure out how to get the kids out of their neighborhoods and see the rest of the beautiful city of ours.

"On the way home we decided to give bikes away to the kids so they could enjoy the sport that we love. We didn't know how to choose (which children received) them so we let the principle do it. This first time the parameters were that they had to be on the honor roll and they had to have perfect attendance. I think they had 14 kids that met that standard and we put their names into a hat and picked one girl and one boy. It was quite dramatic and the entire school loved the idea and their new bikes. This March there will another standard set I have just asked them to donate more bikes."

Great work, VV's. We are proud to be associated with you and your efforts.