Sit at the counter at Krystal Jo’s Diner, a fixture on Fendon Rd. in Flint and, before long, you’ll feel like a regular. It’s that community spirit that led owner, Tony Tucker, to start a small bike giveaway in the parking lot of the restaurant. For Tony, the bike is a symbol of community togetherness. “People don’t realize how big this is for some of these kids,” said Tony. “The bike is like a majestic force; it just brings them together and has a positive influence on their bodies and their minds.”
And it is through the power of community that his idea of a small bike giveaway evolved into a major summer event.
Rawlan Lillard, Jr., Community School Director at Neithercut Elementary School located just a few blocks from Krystal Jo’s, heard about Tony, and went to talk with him about the idea of doing something big to make a difference for students in the neighborhood. Rawlan is a part of the Community Education Initiative, coordinated by the Crim in partnership with the Flint Community Schools. Community Ed brings together parents, families and volunteers to make neighborhood schools hubs of the community and help kids succeed academically.
Tony immediately saw that the small event he was doing on his own could have greater impact. So he agreed to add the bike giveaway to the Community Ed summer kick off party this past June at Neithercut. The result? A whopping 577 children received free bikes and helmets. Volunteers took time to size the helmets and talk with parents and children about bike safety. In addition, families were also able to play games, dance to music and try healthy foods created by FoodCorps service members hosted at the Crim. It was truly a community party. “What Krystal Jo’s does for our school is a prime example of the strength of partnership that helps create something larger,” said Rawlan.
Tony added that sometimes it’s simply giving kids a way to build their own communities and finding something positive to do that keeps them out of trouble. Next year, Tony wants to give away 1,000 bikes. To pull off this feat, he is collecting bikes in any condition year round. “If it was run over by a car and laying in a ditch, I’ll take it,” Tony laughs. “I want every kid in Flint to have a bike.”