BRAWLEY — Five-year-old Delilah Ascencio smiled as she emerged from the patio with her new bike, past parents watching their children search for ideal bicycles, and into the parking area where she could test ride her new wheels.
Her mother, Laura Pizano said she brought her two children to the Las Chabela’s annual bike giveaway on Sunday. “Both of them got new bikes. I’m very excited for them and they’re very excited and happy with their bikes.”
Each child smiled as he or she entered the patio through the restaurant. With so many bicycles, the children seemed overwhelmed looking from one row to another, often ahead of the volunteer, checking out an attractive bike. Often,a child would trade a helmet. Once a bike is selected, a volunteer helped the child at one of the four tables where bikes were adjusted according to their height and helmet straps were customized.
Meanwhile, many parents and their children bypassed the entrance to the dining area of Las Chabela’s and proceeded toward the patio just behind the restaurant. They were just trying to get ahead of the line by the entrance to the fenced patio.
Agent Luis Sanchez, a law enforcement officer with the Brawley Police Department assigned as a school resource officer with the Brawley Elementary School District, carried a list of preselected recipients checking them off as the child got in line. Children kept coming and the line was getting longer.
Inside the patio were bicycles grouped according to appropriate ages and sizes of the children. Volunteers stood by at their designated stations for bicycle and helmet adjustments and a snack area. At one corner, musician Ruben Hernandez sang and played his guitar.
“Today we are giving 116 bikes with helmets. I’ve always said that, ‘A child always remembers his first bike,’” said Carlos Weir, owner of Las Chabela’s restaurant.
Funding for the bike giveaway came from different sources.
“It’s partially funded by individual donors and partially by a grant from the Elks National Foundation,” said Ron Stillman of the Elks Lodge 1420, Secretary and State Association Treasurer.
Community support also came from the Brawley Explorers, Brawley Police Department, Imperial County Sheriff’s Office, with foster care facility case workers helping out during the event.