Good Sports: Bike program providing positive outlet for kids

FRESNO, Calif.

Clovis native Tony Hoffman speaks honestly, and is contrite, when talking about the checkered past that he's trying to make up for today.

"Through the bad experiences in life I realized that kids need direction and they need positive influence and the freewheel project is that," Hoffman said.

So he's decided to lead an effort to give back to the community in a big way through his non-profit Freewheel Project's summer camp.

"We want kids to learn how to make good decisions, learn how to overcome obstacles, be healthy and active, so they're not in the realm of the childhood obesity statistic. And we draw them out here with bikes," Hoffman said.

Last summer Hoffman had anywhere from 40 to 60 kids come out to Woodward Park's bike track free of charge to listen to his testimonials, make friends and, of course, ride.

Hoffman hopes to double that number this summer, starting this coming Monday.

"We're looking for at least 100 kids to commit to the program over the nine weeks, ending August 13th. And if they commit to the rules - no bullying, showing up every time, being here committed - on August 13th we're going to award them with a $300 bicycle," Hoffman said.

Judging by what some of the kids have already learned on a 100-degree afternoon in Fresno, he should have no problem reaching his goal.

"Just make the right choices and do the right thing so you don't - something bad happen to you," seven-year-old BMX rider Gibson Patton said.

"Just use your brakes when you need it," seven-year-old BMX rider Jenna Ramirez said.

"Keep my wheels on the ground and don't fly because that's wasting more time and you get to go faster and that's how you get to go faster if you keep your wheels on the ground," seven-year-old BMX rider Ashton Hale said.

These lessons learned make it an easy choice for parents looking for a positive outlet for their kids.

"It's really good for all the kids. It not only teaches them good bike riding skills but also positive messages, good influences, they've learned a lot about making good choices," Kathi Patton, Gibson's mother, said.

The equation is simple: a commitment of one hour a day for nine weeks, once a week, will net you a $300 bicycle. It all starts on Monday at Woodward Park at 9:00 a.m.

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