Sharing the Gift of Cycling
My name is Tyra. As an 8-year old child, I had no friends because I was shy and timid.
I grew up in a small neighborhood named Charlotte, where all the children owned bicycles. My single-parent mother couldn’t afford to buy me a bike, though, because she had been struggling to provide since my father died.
Every day, I watched through the window as children rode their bicycles around the neighborhood and smiled, laughed, and raced, wishing I could join them.
On Christmas morning, while most kids in our neighborhood opened their gifts and ate their delicious meals, my mother and I were at home eating fish, butter, and rice. We didn’t have money to buy fancy gifts, a Christmas tree, a turkey, a chicken, and decorations. All we had was our love for each other, so we sang Christmas carols while eating.
Suddenly, someone rapped on our door. My mother went to check, and we were surprised to see my teacher, Miss Edwards, standing there with a Christmas present for me. After my mother welcomed her inside our home, I learned that underneath all the wrapping paper was a pink BMX bicycle.
I was so happy and excited that my little heart skipped beats. Then, my mother began crying: she was delighted since she’d secretly been sad that she couldn’t give me what I’d wanted. She expressed gratitude, and she and Miss Edwards hugged.
At my school, Charlestown Primary, I was a top student performer. It turned out that Miss Edwards read my term examination essay titled, ‘What Do You Want for Christmas,’ where I mentioned I wanted a bicycle my mother couldn’t afford. Since she has such a generous, kind heart, she decided to gift me a bike in the spirit of the season.
I asked Miss Edwards, “How can I ever repay you?” To which she replied, “Just be happy and take care of the bicycle.” I promised to do just that, so she walked to the door and returned home to spend Christmas with her family.
I was too excited and didn’t want to wait until the next day to ride my new bicycle. The problem was that I didn’t know how to ride, so my mother carried me outside to teach me.
I repeatedly jumped on my bicycle and started pedaling, but found that it wouldn’t move, which caused me to fall. After six consecutive tries, I became sad and discouraged. But my mother gave me wisdom and courage with her words, “It’s okay. We all have to learn before we can do anything. Don’t be scared to learn!”
I pulled myself up out of the grass and tried again, while my mother cheered me on: “You can do it!” Suddenly, I was riding. I was the happiest kid in the world, with my smile illuminated like a thousand stars in the sky, the wind blowing my hair, and my bicycle tires leaving tracks in the dust.
I named my bicycle Barbara. I cared for and loved my bike, and washed her every Saturday while at home from school. Every Sunday, I carried her to a bicycle mechanic, an old man named Mousey. There, I would clean his shop in exchange for servicing my bike, because I couldn’t afford his much-needed services, otherwise.
I rode my bicycle everywhere, including to school. Each day, after we were dismissed, I would race the children in my neighborhood, which is how I made new friends.
When I reached the age of 18, I was watching television during the Christmas season and saw a commercial for an organization named Supreme Orphanage, which asked for toys and other donations.
“There must be a child in need there,” I thought to myself. Right then, I decided to donate Barbara as a Christmas gift. I wanted to return the same giving spirit and the gift of cycling my teacher once shared with me.
Growing up, I loved cycling because of the way it made me feel, the races where I was challenged, and the neighborhood friends I made.
If only bicycles were the sole vehicles on the road around the world, my father would still be alive today: he was killed in a car wreck.