Sun Youth distributes bicycles to exceptional local kids
On the first pleasantly warm weekend of the year, families gathered under bright yellow flags in Jarry Park to celebrate the exceptional stories and deeds of local youngsters and reward them with new bicycles and celebratory cupcakes.
Sun Youth’s 37th Annual Bike Distribution event, which happened on May. 15, highlights children who have performed “good deeds or who have shown extraordinary courage when facing exceptional circumstances.”
That included kids who had shown selfless dedication to their communities, children who had shown extraordinary feats of courage and kids who had persevered through exceptional circumstances.
Kids are nominated by friends, family or teachers and win a new bicycle, a helmet and a bike lock if they are selected. Close to 500 children were referred to the youth community group this year and a total of 100 were selected.
Running since 1984, the program has been possible thanks to the private funding of local businessman and philanthropist Avrum “Avi” Morrow who had remained anonymous. He passed away in 2019 but his family has taken on the initiative.
“It was tough for him to get a bike when he was a kid and when he was well off he wanted to help kids get bikes when they were older,” said Anthony De Francesco, director of community services for Sun Youth and proud Park Ex Resident.
“So it’s the memorial bike giveaway and he wanted to celebrate awesome kids in the community,” added De Francesco.
The program recognizes local kids in three categories of outstanding conduct. They include children who have posed a heroic gesture, those who have had a positive impact on their communities and those who have gone through an extremely difficult time and have persevered through it.
“We had one child who saved his sister from drowning, so that was a heroic act,” said De Francesco adding that they also recognized “a young 9-year-old girl who actually managed to get her whole school in Verdun waste-free.”
De Francesco felt that given the pandemic, it was very important to recognize the selfless behaviour of the kids. “It’s always great to be able to reward the kids, it’s really awesome,” he added.
Mathys Lafond-Paolucci was one of the children with a remarkable story and had been selected by Sun Youth to receive a new bicycle that day.
He spent the winter shovelling snow in the driveways of elderly people in his area to help them out. His mother nominated him to the program.
“I’m very happy to be here, I already had a bike at my grandmother’s, but this one is new and I find it very beautiful,” said Mathys as he stood next to his brand new black and red bicycle.
“I find it great that efforts are rewarded and all the efforts that we do for people are recognized,” he added, saying that he would use it this summer to go on bike rides with his family.
“It was a bit complicated,” said his mother Melissa Bergeron-Paolucci of not having a bicycle at home before, but said she was very happy that Mathys would now be able to come along on family outings.
Another one of the lucky laureates that day was Morgane Dedun who was nominated by her school. “She went through a very difficult situation last year,” said Claudia Dedun, Morgane’s mother.
Morgane was diagnosed with necrotizing pneumonia, a rare form of pneumonia bacteria that eats away at the lungs and can be deadly. Morgane was hospitalized for a long period and her family wasn’t sure whether she would make it.
“At the end, she went back to school with a machine for her medication,” said Dedun, adding that “she nonetheless finished top of her class with an average of 98%.”
Although she knows her daughter is very intelligent, Dedun said that it was Morgane’s determination that was truly commendable. “It was a really difficult year for her,” added Dedun but said that as of 3 weeks ago Morgane had been cleared by her doctors and had recovered and now has a healthy immune system.
Morgane was very happy with her new bicycle, which she practiced riding with the help of her dad. She then participated in the “victory lap” where kids took their news bikes for a spin across the park, accompanied by local police officers.