Academy Sports, SPD surprise 30 students with bikes

Faith Lifer
Staff Writer

Academy Sports + Outdoors partnered with the Starkville Police Department to surprise 30 Sudduth Elementary students with new bikes and helmets Tuesday morning.

The donation was a part of Academy’s 17th annual bike donation program, which will provide over 5,500 children with bikes at 120 donation events across 16 states this December. Altogether, the bikes and helmets will amount to over $410,000 in December donations.

“It fits our active-minded lifestyle, so it’s an opportunity to give gifts that get kids outside and gets them active,” Starkville Store Director Blake Burns said. “It’s a great Christmas gift. Kids love bikes.”

SPD Lt. Henry Stewart helped coordinate the event with Sudduth Elementary School.

“Education’s so important so why not be a part of something that gives students bikes to motivate them,” Stewart said. “It was a pleasure to do this event knowing that we were giving 30 bikes and 30 helmets to deserving kids.”

“We’re happy to do anything that’s community-oriented to show that the police department has a different side, a giving side, a friendly side,” Stewart added.

Stewart said he enjoyed seeing the children receive their bikes Tuesday.

“It was great to see these kids with their eyes wide open to see these new bikes and to ride around with their helmets on,” Stewart said.

Sudduth Elementary Kindergarten and Pre-Kindergarten Counselor MaryRuth Caradine was one of the counselors who worked with teachers to choose 15 kindergartners and 15 first graders to receive the bikes.

“We selected students we thought would really appreciate a bike for Christmas,” Caradine said.

Caradine thought the donations were in the spirit of Christmas.

“This is the whole spirit of Christmas,” Caradine said. “When a community comes together as Academy Sports and SPD did, that’s what Christmas is really all about is the community coming together to facilitate the Christ-mas spirit. And especially with this age (of children).”

And just like the excitement on Christmas morning, Caradine said she was glad the bikes were a surprise.

“When they got down here this morning, this is the first they knew about it so it was a surprise,” Caradine said. “When they walked in they were kind of in shock. And now you can see they’re warming up to it and that that’s really their bike.”

Caradine said she was also thankful the gifts were bikes.

“Look at them. I mean how much fun. A bike is the traditional Christmas gift,” Caradine said. “I don’t know so much anymore with the technology, but in the day, a bike for Christmas was a big deal and everybody wanted a bike for Christmas and so I hope it facilities more exercise, getting outdoors and having something they call their own.”

For twins Jamal and Kamal Jefferson, getting a bike for Christmas was on the top of their wish lists and those wishes were fulfilled Tuesday.

“We’re just so excited about it because that’s one of the number one gifts that they wanted for Christ-mas,” the twins’ mother, Michelle Jefferson, said.