SHERMAN, TX-Christmas came two weeks early for dozens of kids at Jefferson Elementary School as they saw several sets of wheels roll into the school gym. Our Victoria Maranan was there Friday afternoon and spoke with some kids who got new bikes.
Academy Sports and Outdoors gave out thousands of bikes to deserving kids in the past ten years and, as part of their anniversary, they stopped by Jefferson Elementary School in Sherman to the surprise of its students.
Elementary 3rd and 4th graders were surprised when they walked into the school gym Friday, seeing 30 bikes lined up in front of them. But, it wasn't a surprise for Marsha Gaddis, who is the mother of 3rd grader Benjamin Omayebu.
"They called and they said I would need to come an help him home tomorrow because he was nominated to receive a gift and I asked, 'well what was it that I needed to be there?' And they said he'll receive a bicycle," she said.
"It's exciting, I'm excited," Benjamin said.
Benjamin was one of the 30 boys and girls at Jefferson who received a new bike. They were all nominated by their teachers based on high grades and character. One of his classmates, Dylan Horton, was surprised when his name was called out.
"I was about to scream, like really, like scream scream," he said.
And he loves his new bike.
"It's blue, it's my favorite color and it has these brakes and it comes with a helmet and it's all for free," he said.
Academy Sports and Outdoors manager, Douglas Hotalen, was at the school giving out the bikes.
"It's just wonderful. I mean, I feel like Santa Claus and it's a great opportunity for us to get out of the retail environment and just give gifts this year," he said.
Hotalen said giving new bikes to kids encourages them to keep moving and do well in school.
"We really try to get kids to be more active minded and they are given based on their grades, their attendance and need as well," he said.
Which Gaddis said will teach her son, Benjamin, that doing well in school brings in rewards.
"This is something that he earned and it makes it so much important. He will never forget it and neither will I," she said.
Academy is planning to donate $200,000 worth of bikes and helmets this year, which means 21,000 kids nationwide will soon have a new set of wheels.