My First Wheels, Centennial students team up for charity fundraiser

There’s something liberating about being outside on two wheels, Lenni Eubanks says.

That feeling, she said, sparked an idea that’s become My First Wheels, a charity that accepts donations of bicycles, cleans and tests them, then gives them to kids in need.

“My bike has always given me a sense of freedom and independence, and I knew it could do the same for kids,” Eubanks said. “So I put a few ideas about logistics down on paper and called a community agency to see if they would partner with me.

“One thing led to another and it grew from a summer project into a registered charity.”

I just wanted to find some way that I could help kids reach their full potential, something that I could do to help kids feel empowered and confident

—Lenni Eubanks

Now, some Centennial College corporate communications and public relations students have joined with her, turning a class assignment into a charity event.

A Bid for a Bike is set for The Duke of York pub at 39 Prince Arthur Ave. on Nov. 28 at 7:30 p.m.

“The event is a live auction that we are hosting where students, friends and families can buy tickets for $5 or $10 at the door,” said Shahroz Hassanzadeh, a student in the public relations program. “While at the event, guests can mingle, enjoy some great food and take part in our live auction where they can bid on tons of wonderful gifts.

“All of the ticket money and money we raise from the auction will go towards My First Wheels.”

Students were tasked with creating a charity event as part of their events management class, Hassanzadeh said.

“Having formed our group, we started looking for a charity which helped kids,” he said. “[My First Wheels] provides children who may not be able to afford a bike with one. We knew it was the right charity for us.”

One of the reasons Hassanzadeh and his classmates chose My First Wheels was its small size, he said.

“The charity has never done something like [A Bid for a Bike] and has really relied on Lenni’s efforts,” Hassanzadeh said.

The charity has become a family affair, Eubanks said. She has help from her son.

“He helps me pick up bikes, clean them, put them in storage and test them,” she said. “When kids donate their bike as a gift to another child, they are making an impact. [And] not just to the children that need bikes, but also to the environment because it keeps bikes out of the landfills.”

Too many families can’t afford things like bikes for their children, Eubanks said. That’s where My First Wheels comes in.

“I didn’t set out to start a charity,” she said. “I just wanted to find some way that I could help kids reach their full potential, something that I could do to help kids feel empowered and confident.

“Every kid should have the chance to just be a kid and go for a ride. It’s just plain fun and it’s healthy.”