Fifty sixth-graders are riding around on their first bicycles after a determined teen decided to make a difference.
Christina Adams, 17, a junior at San Ramon Valley High and a member of its mountain bike team, recalled attending a cycling event in Monterey a few years ago.
"I went to a woman's inspirational talk, and she challenged everyone to go out and get more people into biking," Adams said.
Adams had become interested in mountain biking after watching her older brother participate.
"I got dragged along to all the races and ended up loving it and joining the team," she said. The San Ramon Valley team trains three days a week during the season, from January to May.
When Adams heard that the students at St. Elizabeth's Elementary School in Oakland didn't have bicycles in their lives, it made sense to do something about it for her Girl Scout Gold Award project. She decided to get a bike for each of the school's 50 sixth-graders.
"The principal of that school goes to my church (St. Joan of Arc) and used to be the youth group leader," Adams explained. "She lives in San Ramon so it was easy to coordinate."
Easy to coordinate perhaps, but still a huge undertaking. First Adams, who has been in Scouts since kindergarten at Greenbrook Elementary in Danville, came up with several ideas to fund the project. One event she organized was holiday caroling for Danville and Alamo Girl Scouts in the Greenbrook neighborhood. With all of her fundraising she earned more than $7,000.
Then she set about purchasing 50 bicycles, helmets, safety locks, repair kits and spare inner tubes from local stores.
"I got all the bikes delivered in boxes and ran a big event to put them together," Adams said. "A lot of people from my team came and helped build the bikes -- they were familiar with bikes. We assembled them at the gym at my church."
Next she rented the biggest moving truck she could find and loaded it up. She not only delivered the bikes but also met the students and made sure each was properly fitted with a helmet.
"We went on the second day of school because they started the week before I did," Adams said. "It was really cool, watching them all. We had police officers come to help out."
The students were in awe that someone would go out of their way to provide them with such a gift. Some of them had never been on a bike before, and Adams and the others helped them learn how to ride.
"We would teach them and run around with them," she said.
She also gave their teachers binders with lesson plans about bicycle safety that they could study in class.
"I have heard that a lot of them are riding their bikes to school now, and it's all going really well," Adams said. "I'm really excited about how it all came together. It just came to life when I saw the kids and how happy they were riding their bikes."
Adams is just finishing up the paperwork for her Gold Award, three years after she began working toward the goal.
And thanks to her efforts, 50 sixth-graders have discovered the joys of riding a bicycle.
* Christina Adams cycles up Mount Diablo a few times a year.
* Christina loves biking and hiking, and she is always looking for new trails to try by bike or on foot.
* She likes to hang out with her friends in her spare time.
* She earned her Girl Scout Bronze Award in the fifth grade, her Silver in the seventh-eighth grades, and knew she wanted to go for the Gold.
* Someday she would like to be an engineer.