MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The Brad and Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative (OEDC) purchased 18 new bikes for Youth Cycling Coalition (YCC) participants through a $10,000 donation from the Morgantown Board of REALTORS®.
The ten cycling nonprofits that make up the YCC recently launched a pilot of collective youth cycling programming in Morgantown. Assistant Vice President of the Brad and Alys Smith OEDC, Greg Corio, said the organization supports the coalition through programming implementation and data analysis.
“Stephanie, who’s the president of the board, came to us and wanted to make a difference in the community,” Corio said. “And they felt like our YCC program would be a great place to spend it and so we got these great bikes. It’s a wonderful story because these bikes are for kids who need it, so if a kid shows up, we want to lower the barrier of entry into biking. And so, they will get to ride a really nice high-quality bike.”
Bikes, Corio said, are in “really high demand right now”, so securing the 18 bicycles was not a walk in the park. They had to work with the Outride program, based in Santa Cruz CA, to set aside the 18 necessary bikes.
The bikes were then sent to Wamsley Cycles in Morgantown, where the team there built each and every single one of them for free, Corio said.
“And so, now, if a kid participates in one of the YCC programs, they will have a bike to ride,” he said.
The ten cycling nonprofits that make up the YCC offer a variety of programs, so the ways the 18 bicycles could help are, potentially, limitless.
The YCC Corio said, was created because the coalition was looking for one town all across the United States where they could “all work together” to get kids on bikes. After a search of 33 towns and cities across the nation, it landed in Morgantown to run the pilot project.
And so, you’ve got Little Bellas, which is a female mentoring program for young girls. You’ve got ‘Free Bikes 4 Kidz’, which gives low-income families, the parents and the kids, a free bicycle so they collect old bikes, refurbish them and give them out. You’ve got Project Bike Tech, which is high school juniors and seniors getting certified as a bike technician, a level one bike technician, and they also teach STEM education. You’ve got NICA, which is the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, which is huge in West Virginia. You have USA BMX Foundation, which does STEM education for young kids, safe bike routes to schools and others. So, they’re all trying to work together in Morgantown to see if we can get more kids on bikes, which is why we needed this bicycle donation from the Morgantown Board of Realtors. And I’m so glad they stepped up so that any kid participating, they can show up and they can have a high-quality bike to ride on some of our programming.Greg Corio – Assistant VP, Brad and Alys Smith OEDC
Corio said all of the nonprofits involved in YCC can contact the Brad and Alsy Smith OEDC if they need a bike to implement their programming.
For example, if Little Bellas needs a bicycle for a girl being mentored, “we can make sure that she has a bike to ride when she’s in that program,” Corio said.
It is all “really exciting,” Corio said, because this all weaves, perfectly, into the OEDC’s mission.
“Part of the Bradley Smith donation of the $25 million to WVU is building high-quality trails,” Corio said. “And so, we want to lower the barrier of entry into the sport of cycling and so these bikes will also be used in special programming, the grand opening of the trails that are being built and in programming for our communities.”
Corio said the OEDC is “really grateful” for the $10,000 donation because it’s going to positively impact many local children. Plus, he said, it’s “going to be a lot of fun to see the kids, actually, out riding”.
“It is a huge opportunity, we wouldn’t have been able to buy these bikes if it wasn’t for their support,” Corio said. “And also outride being able to hold back the bikes — bikes are in incredibly high demand, especially children’s bikes, the industry saw incredible growth, bike shops are pretty bare across the country and for them to hold back bikes in California for Little Morgantown, WV clear across the country, to make sure we have bikes to support the YCC program is really touching. They’re making a difference in our community and we want this to be a great place to live, work and play. And so, we want to get our kids out and falling in love with bicycling and without this donation, we couldn’t do it.”
About the Brad and Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative:
According to WVU, the Smith OEDC leverages West Virginia’s outdoor assets to ignite the state’s economy and enhance the quality of life for West Virginians through outdoor recreation. Through alliances across West Virginia University, state and local governments, the outdoor industry, and related groups, the Smith OEDC works to stimulate and improve economic opportunity; inspire, educate, and develop West Virginia’s youth; and redefine West Virginia for its outdoor recreation assets and quality of life. Learn more at oedc.wvu.edu.
You can learn more about Brad and Alys Smith, as well as their other charitable works here.