By Mary Stadnyk | Associate Editor
Tell 55 young kids that each of them is going to get an unexpected surprise and they obviously get really excited.
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Then to see the look on their faces once they find out what the surprise is – a new bicycle – they are beyond excited, they’re over the moon.
That was pretty much the scene around the Hamilton Township Bromley Neighborhood Center July 14 where the 55 children who attended summer camp sponsored by the Mercer County CYO were each presented with a new bicycle that came equipped with a bell and helmet.
According to Tom Mladenetz, CYO executive director, the bikes were donated through the generosity of Shop Hamilton, a group that represents Hamilton’s local businesses, and Shine and Inspire, Inc., along with Doctors Express Urgent Care Center.
Shop Hamilton member Carol Feldman, who also founded Shine and Inspire, a non-profit Mercer County organization that seeks to enhance the quality of life for local residents with the help of charitable gifts, said it was through her involvement in Shop Hamilton that she became familiar with the Bromley Neighborhood Center, a local government facility that is operated by the Mercer County CYO. One of the programs the CYO hosts at its Bromley Center locale is a summer camp that serves many local youth. Noting that Shine and Inspire is based on the premise of “paying it forward,” meaning that if Shine and Inspire provides assistance to an individual, than that individual is then asked to come up with an idea to help someone else.
Working with other Hamilton businesses, Feldman secured the necessary funds to purchase the bikes and bells from Hamilton-based Economy Bicycle and Skate Shop. Additionally, Doctors Express Urgent Care Center, another Shop Hamilton member, provided helmets.
The July 14 event at the Bromley Center began with an assembly in the recreation room where the campers, all of whom were wearing bright orange CYO t-shirts, and their parents, heard from Mladenetz, who talked about the work of the CYO throughout the county; Mayor Kelly Yaede, whose leadership led to the CYO operating the Bromley Neighborhood Center and has a lengthy history in enlisting help from the community’s local businesses including Shop Hamilton, and Felddman, who built the momentum of the surprise for the unsuspecting children.
After the assembly, the campers were ushered to an outdoor area of the facility where they finally saw their surprise gift.
“This is awesome,” said Madrie Sukhraj as she watched her six-year-old son, Sundeep, hop on to his new bike.
“I want him to learn how to ride a bike,” Sukhraj said, adding how pleased she has been with the CYO camp, especially since it was the first time Sundeep had ever attended a camp.
Joana Gonzalez had been thinking about buying her seven-year-old daughter, Mia, a bike for Christmas, but “Christmas came a little early,” she said with a smile.
“This came as a nice surprise, I was not expecting it,” Gonzalez said.
“This is a nice gift,” Mia added as she surveyed her new neon pink wheels.
As Cory Zeitzer of MIXBIN, a business that sells technology products watched the happy campers, he shared that he was inspired to donate funds for half of the bikes simply because he works for a company that “does well” and he wanted to pay it forward as a way to show his appreciation.
“This effort illustrates the very best of our community,” said Yaede. “The generosity of our local businesses and the compassion of our local non-profit organizations never ceases to amaze me. Thanks to their combined efforts, today was a very special day for our Bromley summer campers.”