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Bicycle assembly at Bayhealth in Dover a fulfilling service

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DOVER — Kyle Adams was more than willing to spend time assembling some bicycles Monday.

After all, it was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and the Delaware State University deputy director of athletics was bent on giving service to the community.

Mr. Adams was one of 60 volunteers who participated in the Free Bikes 4 Kidz event, hosted by Bayhealth at its Blue Hen Corporate Center location.

He explained, “We feel that it’s really important, as we look to further the legacy of Dr. King and us being at a (historically Black university), being centrally located in Dover and Kent County, we connect and give back to young people in this community. I think, with our student-athletes having opportunities to attend Delaware State University to play Division I athletics, comes a responsibility.

“We want to build a strong relationship with our student-athletes and the young people in this community. So we feel like this is a great opportunity to do that.”

Working at the same table was Delaware State women’s lacrosse coach Pamella Jenkins, who said she expected 10 to 15 team members to join in.

“When I heard the event, I said, with no hesitation, ‘Absolutely. I’m there,’” she said.

And, as for the Hornet athletes, she added, “It’s important, especially going to an HBCU on MLK Day, that they give back. So you have the opportunity to play Division I lacrosse, so it’s also important that you get out and are also able to give back to the community.”

Just a few minutes into the assembly, Mr. Adams described the work as “fun, and I’m really enjoying it. I don’t know that I’ve put a bike together from the infancy stages, but I’m really excited about it. I feel it’s coming together.”

The volunteers were scheduled to build bikes over six hours, and the equipment would eventually be given to kids in need. There were 277 bikes donated by Kent Bicycles, and any left unassembled at the session’s end would be put together at another time, Bayhealth spokeswoman Kalee Sexton said.

Organizer Dr. Tom Vaughan, Bayhealth’s chief wellness officer, said the health system became involved less than two weeks ago.

But, just a few minutes into its first event, Dr. Vaughan was surrounded by a whirlwind of activity.

“We’ve been incredibly surprised by the turnout,” he said. “People have shown up, just jumped right in and started putting bikes together. The way it’s all come together is beyond comprehension. We had put one announcement on the internet, and we had 60 of 60 slots filled in two days.”

Benefactors will go beyond just the kids receiving bikes, he added.

“Every kid is probably going to have something they didn’t expect, but it ultimately benefits everybody,” Dr. Vaughan said. “It benefits the volunteers by giving them opportunity to help people in the community and work on things that you might have a passion for.

“The kids benefit with their health reasons. Getting them out and away from the TV and social media and pedaling away also can expand their world focus by getting out on (their) bike and exploring the world.”

Jay Biggs, 82, of Greenwood, was just beginning to construct his first bike a bit after noon. He wasn’t sure how long it would take.

“I have to organize all the parts first and then get started,” he said, but he expected his general knowledge of bike repair to get him through.

“I’ve worked on bikes since I was a kid, so I guess I’m putting together all the knowledge I’ve gained over all those years.”

Until age 13, Mr. Biggs never rode a bike that wasn’t a hand-me-down.

Therefore, he added, “If I can assemble a new one that goes to a kid, I’m more than happy to do that.”

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