Christmas comes early for 88 kids
Annual Wheels for Kids gives children in Orlando new bikes.
Onika Andino broke through a crowd of dozens gathered around Orlando Commissioner Patty Sheehan outside Howard Middle School Monday when she heard her name over a loud speaker. Next to Sheehan were Santa Claus and a baby blue bicycle with purple pedals.
Onika, 6, was one of 88 children whose Christmas came a couple days early, receiving brand new bikes through the commissioner’s annual Wheels for Kids program. The children live in Reeves Terrace, a public housing neighborhood about a mile from the middle school.
Silver tassels hung from the handlebars of Onika’s Frozen-themed bike, which she walked up to the front steps of the middle school to be fitted with a helmet. Other children tested out their new wheels, biking in circles at the front of the school.
The bicycle give-away was started by Sheehan in 2002, when the Reeves Terrace neighborhood lost its busing to local schools. It’s funded every year by numerous donors. The week prior to delivery, the bikes are assembled by Orlando firefighters at the downtown
Onika Andino, 6, stands in front of Howard Middle School on Monday with her mom, Shaleen Rivera, after receiving a bike through the program.