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Utica Safe Schools gives away hundreds of bikes

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The 7th Annual Build-A-Bike Giveaway put on by Utica Safe Schools is once again a huge success.

Dave Buck is the Utica Safe Schools Build-A-Bike coordinator. He says the event at the Utica Memorial Auditorium on this last Saturday of April each year feels a bit like a wedding. He said, "it takes us over a year to prepare for it, and it's all over in three or four hours."

But in those three or four hours, Buck says hundreds of kids not only get a bike, a helmet, and safety lessons, they get a smile put on their face. He added, "look at the faces of these kids and seeing that big smile. I remember as a kid, getting a bike myself and that was like the biggest day for me, and to look at these kids and see them with a bike and that big bright smile, it's just priceless."

Danyelle Campi of Utica, who brought two of her young children to get bikes says this day feels like a mix of Black Friday and Christmas morning. She said, "it really does, there were a lot of people out there. I was here at 6:00 in the morning waiting in line. This gives the kids an opportunity to even go ahead and pick out their own. They don't have to be told what to get, and most of them are brand new bikes."

On giveaway day, it's a sort of all hands on deck for the Utica School District.

The district's audio/visual coordinator Gary Acey was busy checking out bikes before they head out the door, and right next to him, Utica School Board President Christopher Salatino.

Salatino, helping for the second year, said, "last year was my first year. We fixed the bike, and it was so wonderful for this young child that came and we gave him his bike, he gave me a big hug and I said that was it, I'll do this for as long as they do this event. I will be here."

If you were unable to attend the event on Saturday and are interested in any bikes that may have been left over, contact Utica Safe Schools on Monday.

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