On Monday, Atlanta Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff shared his passion for bicycling with 25 kids and teenagers, giving them an opportunity to start their own cycling hobby.
Dimitroff, in partnership with Future Wheels LLC, hosted a bicycle build day at the East Lake YMCA. Scattered across the gymnasium floor were boxes of dissembled Trek bicycles provided by Dimitroff and local shop Free-Flite Bicycles, along with screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches, and bike tool kits. The kids, who were all a part of the Y’s summer program, would take home the completed bicycle, a helmet, and a bike lock.
Dimitroff’s passion for cycling started when he was a kid and grew into his high school years, when having his own car wasn’t an option. He has competed in mountain bike races, several metro Atlanta charity cycling events, and is a part of the nonprofit advocacy group, People for Bikes, which is dedicated to getting more people out riding, whether for fitness or sheer enjoyment.
Dimitroff said this build-a-bike event was inspired by other charitable groups who provide free bikes to children in African countries. “We decided to take it to a smaller level and give bikes to an area of Atlanta that would really benefit from them,” he says.
The event began with an opening how-to demonstration led by the Future Wheels staff. The kids watched as the instructors showed them step-by-step how to put on the handle bars, pedals, seat, and wheels of the bike using the bike tool. Volunteers helped pump-up the wheels after the bike was fully assembled. Once they’d learned what to do, the kids eagerly ran to their boxes, ready to get to get started.
“Out of the 25 kids here, maybe 10 of them will leave here and say that they really enjoy this activity and want to do more,” says Dimitroff. “Maybe one or two of them will become avid riders or use the bike to train for football and maybe even become a cyclist.”
Excited voices and laughter filled the room as Dimitroff, YMCA and Future Wheels staff, and other Atlanta Falcons team members supervised and assisted each kid until all wheels were pumped and everyone was ready to take their new vehicle out for a spin. The finished product: bright turquoise bikes for the girls, black bikes with blue accents for the boys, and plenty of smiles.