Posted June 6, 2019

Temple Campus Safety surprises 200 local children with new bicycles

A bicycle program taught by Campus Safety Services culminated with a surprise giveaway thanks to a university trustee.

young boys on their new bicycles
Photography By: 
Mike Sperando
Nathan and Edward Walker were among 200 North Philadelphia schoolchildren surprised with free bicycles on Saturday.

Two hundred North Philadelphia school children were invited to Temple University on Saturday to receive bicycle helmets as their reward for completing a bike safety program. 

To their surprise, they received brand new bicycles, too.

“Everyone was so excited when we revealed the bikes,” said Capt. Eilieen Bradley of Temple’s Campus Safety Services, who co-led the bike safety program in three schools near Temple’s campus. 

“It was almost like The Oprah Winfrey Show with all the oohs and ahhs,” she said.

The excitement of parents and children was evident as they raced through dozens of rows of bikes in blue, green, silver, black and pink and took their first smiling photos on their new wheels.

Bradley said that with summer break fast approaching, this is a great time for both the safety program and the giveaway to the students, who clearly appreciated their gifts.

“We want to make sure that kids understand not only bike safety, but also how to change a flat tire and how to maintain and care for a bike,” Bradley said. “And it’s important that the police department do this. We’re about more than just enforcing the law—we also engage the community in ways that promote fun and safety.”

Participating schools and community organizations at the event included Dunbar, Duckrey and St. Malachy schools and the nonprofit One Day at a Time, which plans to create a new BMX pump track for community use at 15th and York streets.

The bicycle giveaway was financed by university trustee Phillip C. Richards, FOX ‘62, HON ‘16, who, years before attending Temple and founding a successful company, learned the power of giving first-hand when he was a child in need himself. 

“I grew up in the Lower East Side of Manhattan with a single mother who was a bartender,” Richards said. “For poor kids like me, it was the Boys Club of New York that meant so much. Just when you thought the world didn’t give a darn about you, another event came from the Boys Club—a trip to the zoo or the circus or a Yankees game—to say that we care about you.”

Today, Richards is the executive chairman and founder of North Star Resources Group, a national financial services firm with a history of donating 10 percent of its annual profits to charitable causes. The Scott Richards North Star Charitable Foundation—named for Richards’ son who passed away in 2008—has donated millions of dollars over the years to causes including bicycles for children, Alzheimer’s disease, ataxia, breast cancer, cystic fibrosis and myelofibrosis.

“We are so fortunate to have Temple graduates and trustees like Phillip Richards who are driven to give back,” said Temple President Richard M. Englert. “This bicycle program is the start of something exciting here in North Philadelphia that will benefit hundreds of school children through the summer and beyond.”

Richards said he hopes to make this bicycle program an annual tradition at Temple. 

“My hope and prayer,” Richards said, “is that some of these kids will end up at Temple University and some will feel inspired to pay it forward again, like the Boys Club of New York did for me.”

—Andrew Lochrie