Monday, February 15, 2016

Local Charity Spotlight: Bike Bald

Bike Bald volunteers making cards for children with cancer.
Bike Bald card making session. Image courtesy of Bike Bald
Last year I learned about an organization in Naperville, Bike Bald, that engages the community in bringing awareness to the challenges of children and families facing childhood cancer and other life threatening illnesses while providing much needed emotional support to affected children and families. Additionally, the organization stresses healthy living and bike safety as part of its outreach. Last week, I spoke to Nicole Cavanaugh who sits on the Board of Directors and am excited to bring you more information about this charity as part of my series:

What is the mission of Bike Bald?

Bike Bald's mission is to support Childhood Cancer Awareness while supporting the community, healthy living and sustainability through various public cycling events throughout the year. Bike Bald also furthers awareness through participation in other local events. Bike Bald strives to provide emotional support to children and their families as they face cancer and other life changing illnesses. Support is given during treatment, birthdays, milestones and more.

What are some of the main programs supported by Bike Bald?

Bike events within Naperville including family rides and glow rides. Bike rides are for all ages and have a variety of themes.

Bike Week is a particularly popular event in May. Bike Week for 2016 will be held May 15-20 this year. The kickoff will be a Bike Rodeo at Station 62 in Naperville where kids will learn about bike safety, have the opportunity to purchase helmets and the ability to participate in bike events. Bike Week also includes a 24 Hour Spin-a-Thon ending the week on May 20th. Please keep posted on Bike Bald's Facebook Page for more information on this upcoming event.

Bike Bald Spin-a-Thon on Naperville Riverwalk brings awareness to childhood cancer.
Bike Bald Spin-a-Thon! Image courtesy of Bike Bald.
Station 62: Located at 3380 Lacrosse Lane in Naperville, Station 62 is the location where volunteers pick and pack toys to send to kids as well as make handmade cards. There are card making sessions Wednesdays, Thursdays Saturdays and Sundays. Bike Bald tells volunteers which cards are being made for that session. Individuals can also make cards at home and send them. Bike Bald can provide kits for schools or your organization can set up an event. Cards are hand decorated and include sayings like ‘hope this puts a smile on your face' or 'here is some sunshine for you.' While uplifting, the cards do not include sayings like 'feel better soon' because the outcome of the illness is uncertain. However, even just a nicely decorated card is sure to put a smile on a child's face! 

Station 62 is decorated with a fire station theme and is inspired by Bike Bald fire engine ambassador "Neptune." Really, an adorable place where children and families can volunteer time to help children facing a threatening illness.

Be sure to check Bike Bald's event calendar to verify Station 62's schedule. You can also contact Bike Bald to see if the space can be opened when you would like to visit.

Pedal Express: Through Pedal Express, Bike Bald sends children with cancer and/or life threatening illnesses handmade cards, new toys, arts and crafts supplies and gift cards. Bike Bald on average sends 12,000 cards and 5,000 toys per year.

Bike Helmet Sales: With a mission to promote bike safety, Bike Bald also sells bike helmets at Bike Bald events and sometimes at other Naperville events including parades. Proceeds go to support the organization. The organization is entirely volunteer and these funds are important to help support as many families as possible.

St. Baldrick's Event: Bike Bald holds their own St. Baldrick's Event in September. A real barber's chair is put on Neptune for the event.

Medals 4 Heroes: Medals are collected to be distributed to heroes battling childhood cancer or other life threatening illnesses. Your medal will be distributed with your name and the history of how the medal was won as well as why the child is deserving of it.

Bike Bald Charity Week and Naperville Full and Half Marathon: Bike Bald sponsors the Naperville Full and Half Marathon on October 23 this year. For $250, reserve a charity spot in the race or sponsor another runner or sponsor a parent with a child with cancer. Receive discount on marathon registration and benefit from free support activities for Team Bike Bald. Receive marathon gear and a pre-race meal like no other. Plus, race to bring Childhood Cancer Awareness and in honor of children fighting cancer.

Neptune is beloved by all! Image courtesy of Bike Bald.

Can you tell me more about "Neptune?"

Neptune the fire truck was an early responder to the Twin Towers on 9/11 and was donated by New York first responders. Neptune is well-loved and makes an appearance at various city events to help bring awareness to Bike Bald and its mission. You can request a visit from Neptune at your event for a sponsorship donation or a toy drive. Neptune is a hero and serves to help other heroes through awareness and interaction!

Are there particular suburbs in which Bike Bald is active?

Bike Bald riding events are in Naperville. However, children throughout U.S.A. and even a few other countries have been helped through the organization. Children can be registered for the program through the website.

Does Bike Bald collaborate with any other organizations?

Bike Bald does partner with hospitals.

How can local residents become involved in this cause?

Residents can become involved by engaging in community events, signing up as volunteers, following Facebook to see Bike Bald news and following the calendar on the website. Donations including arts and crafts supplies, new toys, postage stamps and money donations are also very much appreciated!



How can community members donate supplies to the Pedal Express? 

They can be sent to Bike Bald at 3380 Lacrosse Lane, Naperville, IL 60564. There is also toy drop box outside that is always even when Station 62 is not open.

What have you found the most rewarding in working with the organization?

Getting involved and being able to help those going through extremely challenging times. Also, my family's work with Bike Bald has helped my three kids get involved and doing something for someone else. Each has been able to participate in the organization at various levels allowing them to help those in need.

Thank you to Nicole Cavanaugh for talking to me about Bike Bald!



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