HOUSTON - It’s a special day here in Houston as Christmas comes early for hundreds of kids. They’re all receiving one of the best gifts a child can get. What? Well, we asked a number of anxiously awaiting Christmas kiddos what they hope Santa will bring, and they answered.
"I’m really excited to have a bike. I’ve never had a bike."
"I want to get a bicycle, so I can play with my brothers outside."
"I want a new bike because mine is like really rusty and all that."
A short time after chatting with those children there at Raul Martinez Elementary School bike after bike was brought into the building, along with a helmet, to go underneath the school Christmas tree and then go home with every second-grader.
"I’m so excited about the bikes," squealed one little girl and her schoolmate smiled with her. "I’m excited that we’re having bikes".
Martinez Elementary isn’t the only school filled with excitement and full of smiles. Oxy Energy partnered with Wish For Wheels to buy 575 bicycles in all for every second-grader at 10 Houston ISD schools.
"And this is perfect," says another second-grader sitting on his bike for the first time. Some of them certainly won’t pop any wheelies anytime soon. "I need to learn how to ride a bike," admits one little boy.
"Seeing kids run around and smile like this is definitely what we’re hoping for," Jerry Farmer with the non-profit Wish For Wheels says while smiling himself.
"I understand how great it feels when you get a new bike and if you haven’t had a bike before how wonderful that is, the freedom, the independence it gives you, just joy," adds President of Oxy Energy Services Fred Forthuber.
"Do you know why I like bikes?" Jalayla who’s in second grade asks me and I answer ‘Why?’ "You can go everywhere you want to go, and everywhere you need to go," she explains and her schoolmate Eli adds, "It’s really special because I have a new bike and I love it, and it’s my favorite color."
A bike is a big deal for kids but buying one doesn't always fit the family finances. I asked Farmer if he had to wait awhile to get his first bike or if he got it as soon as he wanted it. "I had to wait a little bit for mine," Farmer answered.
"It just was not in the budget," says Martinez Elementary School Principal April Coleman Hernandez, so she understands how special this is.
This is a moment these kiddos will likely treasure for the rest of their lives because no matter how old you get chances are you remember when you got your first bike. "My first bike was a hand-me-down bike, and it was a while before I got the bike I was hoping for, but I still remember that bike very vividly," Forthuber said.
"It was a pink bike, no training wheels," explains Principal Hernandez who saved a Toucan Sam sticker from a cereal box, so she could put it on her first bicycle.
"Finally and eventually my sister and I both received a bike, and I was able to put my sticker on. It looked real cute and pretty on the bike when I finally got it. I got on that bike, and I was wobbling down the gravel road. Me and Toucan Sam were riding down that gravel road," she grins while reminiscing.
Bikes clearly have a way of putting smiles on the faces of kids of all ages.