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Bella's bike from SVdP helps her explore

The 11-year-old Dream Center student earned her wheels and now races with friends

For a little while, 11-year-old Isabella, who goes by "Bella," felt left out. After completing her homework and heading outside, she would have to wait her turn to share one of her neighbor's bikes (if they were so kind). Otherwise, she didn't get to ride along with her friends, explore and play.

That all changed this past year when St. Vincent de Paul gave Bella her new bike.

"I felt excited because before I got the bike, I didn't have one," Bella said, "so I couldn't race with my friends."

Bella tags along with another family served by SVdP's Family Dining Room and educational Dream Center. As a student of the center, Bella got a chance to earn her wheels. She visits SVdP frequently and completed tasks in the Summer Learning Program, which combats "summer learning loss" with a reading regiment that helps kids catch up to read at or beyond their grade level.

"Most have to catch up to just their grade level," Family Evening Manager Cindy Bernardo said. "Bella didn't struggle as much. She's a very bright kid and open to learning."

"We chose Bella to get a bike because she is such a kind and respectful girl," Cindy continued. "She's humble, and everything that you give to her is greatly appreciated."

In Bella's case, her bike meant she could explore and play with friends. But for so many other kids who visit SVdP, a bike is more than recreation. 

"The kids need to get to school," Cindy said. "They need to get to the grocery store. They need to visit with their friends. They need to help mom and dad run errands."

That's why Cindy is asking for the community on Sept. 25 to donate big bikes, little bikes, and bikes every size in between to the 2021 Second Chance Bike Drive with ABC15 and Earnhardt Auto Centers. You can drop off a used or new bike at any Valley Earnhardt Auto Center near you from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. See a list of locations here.

All those bikes will go to SVdP for repair or distribution through the charity's Bike Shop, which gets bikes to adults and kids in need. Bikes also go to SVdP thrift stores to offer low-income families an affordable transportation option. Every bike makes a difference. Just look at how Bella's bike opened up the world a little wider to her. 

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