If you’ve ever put together a kids bike, you’ve probably felt the frustration of a scraped knuckle from a slipped wrench.
Or wanted to curse confusing instructions.
But that wasn’t the case at the World Trade Center Oculus Wednesday afternoon. Like passionate pit crews, hundreds of volunteers smiled as they assembled hundreds of bikes for the 10th Annual 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance hosted by the 9/11 Tribute Museum.
CEO Jennifer Adams-Webb says many of the volunteers were there during the 2001 attacks.
“Being a survivor is a really difficult experience to come back to the same place where you went through a horrible experience, but the perseverance of those people to rebuild lower Manhattan is really incredible,” Adams-Webb said. “So, for them to come and be able to do something really good, especially here at the World Trade Center Oculus, it’s a beautiful space, it’s really a celebration of our rebuilding and our revitalization of this area.”
For the last five years, Saul Negron has volunteered at the event. Negron works for BNY Mellon, one of the sponsors of the event. Last year, his team put together a record setting 22 bikes in one afternoon.
“It affected me personally because I knew someone who perished in the World Trade Center disaster,” said Negron. “This is my way of giving back to the service men and women who are serving and protecting us in this country.”
Once the bikes are assembled, they’ll be brought down to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where they’ll be delivered to the children of military families who are awaiting their arrival.
“I just got goosebumps,” said Captain Salvatore Filannino of the Edison Police Department. “You know I thought it was just going to law enforcement families and when I came here today they told me the bikes were shipped out on Saturday to Fort Bragg and that is just really awesome. I’m sure these kids are going to be quite happy. I’m sure a lot of their families are deployed and can’t be there when the bikes arrive. So I’m sure they’ll get a nice letter or a nice photo of their new gift.”
Adams-Webb says the 9/11 Tribute Museum started assembling the bikes seven years ago after discussing the biggest needs for military families. Since then they’ve made it a point to donate the bikes to the families of military units with more deployments.
“Those units, unfortunately their parents are away a good portion, some of them several times a year,” she said. “So it’s nice that we can actually give them something that they can feel like we really appreciate what their parents are doing.”
Giving both the kids and volunteers a little extra love to keep pushing forward.