The Wallingford Memorial Rotary Club has been making the safety of its communities’ children a top priority for twenty years. Annually since 1998, the Wallingford Rotary sponsors the Wallingford Bike Safety Day. The annual event, held in early May, turns the lawn of the Wallingford Elementary School into a bicycle extravaganza. With financial assistance and continued volunteer support of General Electric, every child who attends the Rotary event, which is open to all area elementary children in Danby, Wallingford, Tinmouth, Shrewsbury and Clarendon, receives a brand-new bicycle helmet of their choice. The helmet is then personally fitted by our Rotary, GE and Interact volunteers to each child’s head and they are instructed in the proper way to wear the helmet for most effective protection while they ride.
After getting their new helmet, each child then circulates through the other stations, which include a volunteer staffed bicycle inspection/repair station, obstacle course where children learn how to properly cross railroad tracks, avoid road hazards, use hand signals and learn proper road etiquette and safety. Other stations provide fun education demonstrating how to avoid crashes and educate children in first aid/bicycle and road safety with volunteers from the Wallingford Fire Department, Wallingford Rescue Squad and the Rutland County Sheriff’s Office, which all participate to help educate and teach our young cyclists.
There is also volunteer-manned face painting and free refreshments, truly making the day a fun filled event for our littlest community members and their families. The day culminates with the highly anticipated bicycle raffle where seven bicycles are raffled off to area children, along with other prizes and gift certificates generously donated by local merchants.
Bike Safety Day has grown into a loved and anticipated community event, eagerly awaited by all. This year to mark our 20th anniversary, we sponsored a 20th anniversary t-shirt logo contest in our local elementary school prior to the big day. The winning logo was created by Torrance Behrendt, a 5th grader at WES. To celebrate our 20th anniversary and Tori’s beautiful design, everyone was encouraged to bring a clean t shirt to the school and our elementary staff screened Tori’s winning logo onto shirts for everyone to enjoy and wear proudly on Bike Safety Day!
Long before we ever take over the elementary school lawn in early May, our bike safety chair, Rotarian Adrian Eisler and community volunteers attend an assembly at the elementary school to educate kids about bike safety and get them excited for our big day!
Bike Safety Day is truly a community event and would never be possible without the dedication and support of our Rotarians, Interact members and many community members – those that donated their time, their talent, new bicycles for our raffle, food for our free refreshments, and so much more! This year, we were especially grateful to welcome a newcomer to our event, Rutland Regional Medical Center which made a generous donation and contributed key chain first aid kits for all our attendees!
Wallingford Rotary is a small club, with fewer than 20 members, but we are a big-hearted club. As we like to say, we are “small but mighty!”