"The Future" is the brand name of the 650 custom-made bicycles that were assembled and given to the entire student body at Pepperhill Elementary School in North Charleston, South Carolina, WCIV reported.
The educator who got the wheels turning from start to finish on this project was first-grade teacher Katie Blomquist, and Thursday was the culmination of seven months of hard work and fundraising that made dreams come true in a school district where many students live in poverty.
Blomquist, 34, said she got the idea after talking with a student who wanted a bicycle for his birthday but was unable to get one because his family could not afford it.
“I started thinking about all the other kids who might not have bikes. We take a lot for granted, and we forget that there’s a large category of kids out there who don’t have bikes,” Blomquist told Today. “That was such a large piece of my childhood memories, and I immediately thought, ‘oh, they’re not getting that!’”
In September, Blomquist started a GoFundMe page, "Every Kid Deserves a Bike!" and set a $65,000 goal, enough to buy bicycles and helmets for Pepperhill's students, Today reported. Within three months, she had raised more than $82,000.
"I thought it would be a nice thing to do, (but) had no idea what I was getting into," Blomquist told WCIV.
She wanted to give the bicycles away at Christmas, but Blomquist told Today that she underestimated how big the project had become.
“This was an entire second job for me, when I got home from work until midnight every night,” she said.
Radio Flyer donated 100 big-wheel tricycles and training bikes for preschool students, while a local business, Affordabike, worked with Blomquist to customize the remaining 550 bicycles, Today reported. Each bicycle was named "The Future" and was adorned with "Let's go places." Affordabike donated bike locks and bells.
Pepperhill principal Tanya Underwood said she “just knew” the project would be completed successfully.
“She’s one of those spunky people who gets things done,” Underwood told Today. “She’s bubbly, energetic. Loves her students. She’s an out-of-the-box thinker. She’s full of life and energy and she shares that with her kids every day.”
Thursday, two tractor-trailers filled with bicycles rolled up to Pepperhill Elementary, and the students’ reactions were priceless.
"It became a thousand more times more amazing than I ever dreamed," Blomquist told WCIV.
She initially wanted to raise money for one low-income student, then her entire class. Eventually, she included the entire student body.