A Bike For You, And A Bike For You…

By John Swartz

Red bikes, blue bikes, pink, purple and green bikes, all lined up in the parking lot at Orillia Home Hardware; 40 of them, ready to make some unsuspecting kids happy.

“I wasn’t coming here,” 6-year-old Madelynn Gallant said. Of course her mother made that decision, but Madelynn didn’t know she and her brother, 9-year-old Dustin were unaware of the purpose of the trip. “”Yes, I didn’t know.”

It’s all because of the Back to the 90s Video Dance Party: Volume 3, which happened at ODAS Park May 25.  More than 500 people attended, raising thousands of dollars for the project.

“We raised $7,000 in cash. What you are seeing is $12,000 in retail, so Home Hardware said – we’re going to clear the list, we going to do the entire list. We’re not going to leave any kids out. They kicked in the rest and here we are,” said Derick Lehmann.

He started raising money for various charities 9 years ago with the Ugly Sweater Bowling Party. Last year he came up with the video dance party idea. The second one last December raised $14,000, which was used to buy toys for kids.

The video dance parties have happened at the Roller Skating Place at ODAS Park and this time the Orillia and District Agricultural Society decide to do more than provide the venue.

“We were going to do bikes for kids for our Polar Bear Dip for Winterfest,” said Chad Cooke, president of ODAS. “We had no ice, no snow, no anything. Derick and I worked together on a few projects and he said – let’s do the next one for bikes for kids, and I loved it. We were in with the venue and we helped out,”

Home Hardware supplied the bikes and some cash to get everything needed. The obvious question for those who regularly get widgets at Home Hardware is, they have bikes?

“It’s not an item we carry regularly, but there are some hardware stores that do well with bikes, so we can order them but it’s not something we’ve ever done really well with,” said co-owner Chris Locke.

“Derick and the Big Brothers and Big Sisters came and asked if we would be interested in participating and of course we would,” he said. “The idea was we would top up the balance. We ordered them through our Home Hardware system and assembled them, and we’re happy to be a part of it. “

The trouble with asking 6-year-olds any question when covering news stories is, more often than not the answers are curt. When Gianna Moor was asked if she liked her bike she managed to get out an answer.

“Uh-huh.” You’ll have to imagine she shook her head up and down when asked if she was excited.

Dustin Gallant was testing out his bike all over the place, but he managed to stop long enough to weigh in on how fast his bike was.

“Pretty fast,” he said.

Lehmann worked with the folks at Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Orillia and District to figure out how many bikes were needed.

“In advance Big Brothers/Big Sisters gave us a spread sheet with all the kid’s heights, and age, and if they are a boy or a girl, and then Home Hardware worked with us to make sure we had close to their wish list if they could with colour.”

The next big event Derick is planning is also a fundraiser, this time for Green Haven Shelter for Women. The theme is changing to a suitable summer concept. The Hawaiian Glow Party happens July 27 at ODAS Park. Derick has enlisted Tiki Escapes Tropical Products and Kahuna Surf Shop to provide some atmospheric décor and people are encouraged to dress the part. Music is by DJ, but the playlist is expanding in both directions from the 90s. You can get tickets online or at Alleycats Music.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia) Main: The gang handing out bikes at Orillia Home Hardware, including Chris Locke, Bill Englund,, Chad Cooke and Derick Lehmann.


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