Determined to get a bike, Wren, 50, and Miller, 49, woke up at 3:20 a.m. and arrived at the GetAbout Columbia office around 5:45 a.m. to stand in line after making the trek from the Salvation Army Harbor House where they currently live.
Their willpower paid off.
Wren and Miller were the first two people to choose from more than 60 newly refurbished bikes donated to GetAbout Columbia for the event.
“It’s my transportation for looking for a job, for getting to work and for everything you can think of,” Miller said about her new bike. “It’s my automobile.”
After losing her temporary job, Wren moved from her apartment in New Florence to Columbia in hopes of finding a new job in a larger market. She plans to use her new silver bike to help in her quest to find work and to get to Job Point, where she will start school on May 17.
“I’ve been a professional cook my whole life and I just want to change things,” Wren said.
This year’s 9th Annual Cycle Recycle was a part of Columbia’s Bike, Walk & Wheel Week. In 2001, Eduardo Crespi started Cycle Recylcle to provide bikes to those in the community who cannot afford them and to encourage Columbia residents to live a healthier lifestyle.
Vouchers were dispersed for the bikes on a first-come, first-serve basis beginning at 9 a.m. The bikes were then given away at noon in voucher number order outside the GetAbout Columbia office on Seventh Street.
Divided into groups of 10, voucher holders stood in small lines, in order, until they were allowed to choose their bikes. Children's, youth and adult bikes were given away along with bike helmets and bright blue GetAbout Columbia T-shirts.
Angela Oliberos was one of several volunteers at the event. She said she enjoyed seeing the happy faces as people got to choose their bike. Oliberos said this event will "help the community who needs bikes for recreation and transportation" and will "motivate people to walk and exercise.”
Bike donations were down compared to previous years, when 100 bikes were donated. Because of the limited quantity, not everyone who wanted a bike was lucky enough to receive one.
Roop Parlalpalli, 26, was number 102. He was not there early enough to get a bike, though he plans to come back next year and try again.
Diana Keller, 35, has been biking with her husband for many years. Both already own mountain bikes but were there Sunday to get a bike for their two-year-old son, Mattias.
“So far, he gets to ride in a trailer behind our own bicycle, so he’s excited to get a bicycle to ride,” she said.
Mattias had voucher number 23 and was one of the first kids to pick out his own bicycle.
Keller and her husband have spent four years volunteering and riding bikes to raise money with the not-for-profit organization Kids Across America. Keller hopes that her son’s first bike he received Sunday will help him learn how to bike so that, one day, they can bike for charity together as a family.
GetAbout Columbia is already accepting donations for next year's Cycle Recycle. Bikes can be donated to their office at 101 N. Seventh St.