Clark Early Learning Center preschool students, from left, April Scott, Jayon McWhorter, Kyleigh Richard and Trinity Miller enjoy new tricycles donated to the school by PNC Bank in 2017. Brett Turner/Contributed

Hundreds of Clark County kids will get new bikes thanks to this local program with an inspiring beginning

Do you remember your first bicycle?

I remember every detail of mine. It was a simple blue Schwinn with a basket on the front and a name plate and reflector on the back bumper.

It was my first ticket to freedom and independence. I could ride that bicycle across the farm yard and down the lane like the wind. It was my steed of choice for explorations of the farm, and as I got older, I rode that bicycle down country roads and into our small town. That bicycle gave me the confidence to explore the world and helped to define me as an individual.

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Bicycle ownership may soon be reality for 300 kids in Clark, Miami, Shelby and Greene counties, thanks to the efforts of three groups centered around Family and Youth Initiatives (FYI) just south of New Carlisle.

The project is called Dominic’s Bikes for Kids.

Bicycles, and just about anything with wheels, were important to Dominic Maiorano. When he was a teen, he began volunteering at Family and Youth Initiatives and especially enjoyed repairing bicycles. Since bikes made him happy in many ways, he took great joy in giving them to young people who needed them.

Two years ago, after Dominic was killed in a tragic accident, his parents Jeff and Kellye Maiorano wanted to find a way to memorialize Dominic and continue helping others as he had.

The folks at FYI wanted to help remember Dominic by continuing to give those wonderful bike owner feelings to local kids who do not have their own bicycles. This effort was compatible with the FYI mission: Empowering Families, Providing Hope.

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Meanwhile, teenagers in an after-school group at Tecumseh, Defining Education For Youth (DEFY), wanted to find another way to help foster children make their difficult transition to foster homes.

Thus Dominic’s Bikes for Kids was born to combine the efforts of these groups. Headquartered at the FYI building, between New Carlisle and Park Layne on State Route 235. This group reconditions gently used bikes and uses donations to purchase new bikes.

“We laughed and we cried. This reminded us of how important children are to a community,” said Kellye Maiorano, who is the coordinator of the project. “Family is so much more than parents and immediate family.”

In the group’s first year, 150 bikes were donated. This year, they hope to donate 300 bikes.

These bicycles will be distributed at the FYI Annual Safety Day. It is earlier than usual this summer and will be held June 12 from 4-7 p.m. at Tecumseh High School, 9830 W. National Rd. in New Carlisle.

There are three ways that individuals in this community can help this smile-making project succeed.

Donating equipment is first. Gently used or new bicycles can be donated by dropping them off at 468 N. Dayton Lakeview Rd. just south of New Carlisle on State Route 235. If you don’t have a bike to donate or your bike is beyond repair, consider donating its reflectors, tubes, lights, bells, tire pumps, horns, seats or security chains.

Second, monetary donations to Dominic’s Bikes for Kids can be made. These donations can be made on the www.fyiohio.org website or at FYI’s offices at 468 N. Dayton Lakeview Rd., New Carlisle.

Finally, help is needed for the actual bike repairing and assembly of new bicycles. This is also a great educational opportunity for teens who want to learn how to care for their own bikes.

Call (937) 845-0403, or visit www.fyiohio.org, for more information on how to get involved.

As Kellye Maiorano told me, it sometimes takes a child to build a community. What a nice legacy that is in our turbulent world.

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