Realizing children cannot ride their bikes on sidewalks in the area, a local woman has taken it upon herself to make sure bicycle safety is promoted and followed in Hillsville.
Organized by Mary Edna Thompson, the Town of Hillsville sponsored a Bike Rodeo on Thursday in conjunction with the Town’s ongoing Hillsville Farmers’ Market. During the event, a free bike safety class was open to children ages 17 and under. Everyone who participated was entered to win a new bicycle and helmet. Church Army USA donated safety flags for the first 12 participants and free helmets were also given away to cyclists who needed one.
Hillsville First United Methodist Church donated a gift card for a free bike, which was won by Katelyn Compton, who turned 12 Wednesday. A sixth grader at Carroll County Middle School, Compton said she was probably going to donate her bike to someone who needs it since she already has one. Compton’s gesture is right in line with the higher calling Thompson felt when she came up with the idea of the Bike Rodeo.
“Since they can’t ride on the sidewalk it was in my heart that they needed to be safe, so we just kind of threw it out there and it was a God thing. He put everything in place. The pastor at the Methodist Church, I was telling him about it and I said, ‘Robert (Smith), we need a new bicycle to give away,’ and he said, ‘Well, if it’s a safety thing then you need a helmet, too,’” Thompson said. “So then the Methodist Church gave us the new bike. Then I was showing the flyers around and saw a kid that needed a bike but didn’t have a way to get one, and I said, ‘Lord, there has got to be a way to get this child a bike.’ And then within two hours a man walked up to me and looked at the flyer and he said, ‘Mary Edna, I have some bikes you can give away, 40 bikes.’ So we have some more available, but the whole idea of we have got to have them safe, we have got to have helmets, we have got to have flags so they can be seen. And we wanted to let them know they can come over and ride at the VFW, parks, trails, parking lots where it is safe. God just put it together.”
The event was well received with 16 children taking part in the Bike Rodeo. Organizers plan to make the Bike Rodeo an annual event to keep bicycle safety in the forefront of the minds of local citizens. Captain Shannon Goad and Officer Eric Testerman of the Hillsville Police Department, along with Carroll County Middle School Resource Officer Mike Combs helped teach the safety course. Goad said the Town of Hillsville still has helmets available for kids who don’t currently own one.
“They can call the police department or Town Hall, but someone will get them a helmet if they don’t have one,” Goad said.
Testerman, who is a certified bike patrol officer with the Hillsville Police Department, has a special place in his heart for bicycle safety.
“You see a lot of kids that wear helmets and it is not properly fitted, so this was just kind of a refresher on, ‘Hey, your helmet needs to be fitted this way and all the safety precautions. Wear bright clothing if you are riding at night. Don’t be wearing headphones in case a car blows the horn, just safety things,’” Testerman said.
Goad noted HPD used to host an annual Bike Rodeo several years ago at the VFW. He is excited to see the event being revived and hopes it will continue to be a yearly offering.
“I am just glad they were receptive about it and open to it,” Thompson said. “One lady brought her son because he didn’t have a bike. She brought him specifically so he could go into the drawing, but we gave him a bike. It just shows community when a community comes together like this.”
Teresa Catron, Marketing Director for the Town of Hillsville, thought the event was a great way to naturally draw on the Hillsville Farmers Market, which is held in season each Thursday afternoon. The town’s last Farmers’ Market of the season will be this Thursday, Oct. 11.
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN