Although we’re just approaching biking season here in the Midwest, the Indianapolis Meijer store in the Broad Ripple neighborhood of the city has supported kids and biking since late last year when they selected local nonprofit Nine13sports for their Meijer Team Gives donation. The Broad Ripple team donated $10,000 to the nonprofit to support its mission of introducing the joy of biking to Indianapolis youth.
Nine13sports was founded in Indianapolis as a health and fitness nonprofit by former national champion cyclist Tom Hanley. Traveling as a competitive athlete, Tom noticed that most kids at the velodromes and BMX tracks were from middle to upper-class families who had the means to provide their children with equipment and pay for training.
Because there weren’t many opportunities for disadvantaged youth to engage with bicycles, Tom created Nine13sports to give kids equitable access to bikes all year long. To make an impact on Indianapolis youth and bring the joy of bicycling to kids of all shapes, sizes, ages, and abilities, the organization brings bikes to kids where they are 10 months a year – at school.
Supporting this cause, our Meijer Team Gives contribution goes directly toward empowering youth in Indianapolis. The organization will use the funds for their Kids Riding Bikes and Kids Building Bikes programs, both designed to get kids access to bikes for health and education.
Kids Riding Bikes, the inaugural program of Nine13sports, provides a safe environment during gym class for kids of all shapes, sizes, and ability levels to bike on a level playing field. The bicycle is introduced and demonstrated as a lifelong fitness tool for better mental and physical health during the program.
In 2018, Nine13sports added the Kids Building Bikes program, which puts tools into the hands of kids to teach mechanical aptitude and other skills by using the bike as the most effective simple machine. After 16 hours of learning STEM concepts through hands-on class time, students who complete the program graduate with a new bicycle, helmet and lock. Nine13sports is also working with educators across central Indiana to develop an in-class STEM program that will deliver engaging lessons aligned with state standards.
For Meijer Store Director Angie Muckridge and her team at the Broad Ripple store, the focus is on serving local youth, including improving their health and overall well-being.
“Meijer invests in the communities we serve and always strives to be a good neighbor,” Angie said. “Nine13sports’ commitment to health and wellness through the Kids Riding Bikes program exemplifies the shared commitment to local giving, as well as health and wellness.”
As part of the relationship-building process, our team, including Angie and Meijer Regional Community Partnership Specialist Kelly Doucet, visited the organization’s facility to get a better sense for the mission and the overall community impact.
“Building relationships with great community partners like Nine13sports allows us to continue enriching lives in the communities we serve,” Kelly said. “We both have a common goal of making our communities better and stronger, together.”
Following that visit, Angie shared information about Nine13sports with her team members, who agreed that the organization’s community engagement and impact on Indianapolis kids was a great fit for Meijer Team Gives. During the holiday season, she invited Nine13sports into the store under the guise of meeting more team members, but she and her team already had a check presentation planned.
For Nine13sports CEO Tom Hanley, interfacing with corporate partners in the community is one of the best parts of his job.
“I’m always excited for the opportunity to share stories about the work Nine13sports does with youth here in Indianapolis,” Tom said, “but when Angie took the floor and told us her team wanted to support this work with a financial donation, it was quite the surprise!”
Whether it’s in a physical education class during Kids Riding Bikes or in the bike lab during Kids Building Bikes, the Meijer Team Gives contribution will benefit hundreds of kids in central Indiana, helping them experience the power of the bicycle.
“Having partners like Angie and her team at Meijer recognize the value of the work we do not only plays a part in keeping our team motivated, but also increases our capacity to do more here in the community,” continued Tom. “It’s a win/win for our programs, and most importantly, for the kids we serve.”