December 20, 2013

Early Christmas presents

Academy Sports delivers 30 bikes to students

By Christopher Smith

— Ask Emanuel Prado, 7, about his new bike.

He probably won’t give you an answer right away. He’ll probably start laughing and smiling and wondering if he’s dreaming. He wasn’t expecting to get a bike for Christmas.

“It’s cool,” he said, after the shock began to fade. “It’s so cool. It’s orange.”

Emanuel was one of 30 students at Eastside Elementary School who — on a typical morning rally at the school gym on Friday — was called up to receive a free, new bicycle he wasn’t expecting. The bikes were donated by Academy Sports + Outdoors, a sporting goods retailer at 865 Shugart Road. Students were selected from a random drawing by school staff.

Emanuel said he was “super happy” he was one of the students chosen because he has never had a bicycle.

“I rode some bikes at my cousin’s house,” he said. “I borrowed his bike.”

It’s pretty “special” to finally have one of his own, he said.

“It’s my first bike and I’m going to be able to ride it,” he added.

Emanuel wasn’t the only one surprised, especially after Santa Claus made an surprise appearance, taking time out of his busy holiday route to run in and out of the gym to say a quick hello to students.

Maria Maldonado, star-struck and clinging to her new bike with a big smile, wasn’t even sure how old she was for a while after seeing Santa.

“Six. I’m seven. No wait. I’m eight,” she remembered, laughing. “I’m eight!”

“I have been riding a bike since I was six,” she quickly clarified. “Sometimes I ride by myself, sometimes I do it with my family.”

Maria’s family, she said, is prepping for a big Christmas. Maria is looking forward to “getting stuff,” but the bike is the highlight of her holiday season so far, she said.

“I’m going to ride this when I get home,” she said. “My parents are going to say, just, ‘Whoa!’ when they see it.”

Emanuel said his parents will also be shocked to see him walk home with the new bike in tow.

“They’re going to be so surprised,” he said.

Eastside Principal Ben Hunt said seeing kids get excited for Christmas is always a great time for staff.

“This is all thanks to business partners like Academy Sports,” Hunt said. “We really appreciate it. This has made 30 kids’ Christmases.”