By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — Grant Elementary School second-grader Davin Clark wasted zero time taking her new bicycle for a spin after being surprised with it at a school assembly. Bicycles were given to a single student at each participating school throughout the district Thursday as part of the city’s Walk/Bike to School Challenge.
The program encouraged students to walk or ride a bicycle to school, and depending on how often they did so throughout the month of October, they were entered into a drawing for various prizes. The bicycle was the grand prize at each school.
Davin’s father Tim said he and his wife were looking into a new bicycle for Davin, so the surprise award came at just the right time. While Davin did not know the surprise was coming, Tim did.
“The principal called and told us yesterday, which I thought was pretty awesome that he’d give us the chance to watch the surprise,” Tim said, adding that his wife was home with their newborn baby girl and was unable to attend.
Mayor Chris Meyer tantalized the assembly of students first by saying that of all the schools he had visited, Grant was the first where the bicycle would not be awarded to a third-grade girl. He then went further saying that the bicycle would be awarded to a second-grade girl and had all the second-grade girls stand. Meyer then turned the microphone over to Trevor Heiman of Nasonville Dairy to present the prize.
“Is Davin Clark here?” Heiman asked. A shriek burst from the crowd, and Davin made her way to the front of the assembly and promptly took her bicycle around the gym for a test drive. The bicycle she rode was actually just a model, and she will later be able to go to the Sports Den to pick out the bicycle she wants. When asked when she would go to pick out the bike, Davin thought for a second and said, “Tonight.”
City Planner Josh Miller is heavily involved in the program and explained its origin.
“In 2007 the city was awarded a Safe Routes to School Grant from the DOT (Department of Transportation) that provided funding for bike racks, educational materials, crosswalk improvements, and prizes. The action plan in the city’s Safe Routes to School Plan identified an opportunity to develop an encouragement/incentive program to encourage students to walk and bike to school,” Miller said.
“After the grant dollars were spent, the city began partnering with local businesses to sponsor the prizes to keep the program going,” Miller added. “This year Nasonville (Dairy) donated enough money to provide one bike to every school and provide prizes such as T-shirts, bike helmets, and reflector strips.”
Team Sporting Goods and the Sports Den are also supporters of the event.