Thanks to 11-year-old Gabrielle Nadler of Rockville, a Filipino girl has a better chance of graduating from high school.
Last year, Gabrielle donated to Bikes for the World a bicycle she had received through the Rockville Bike Program. In May, the charity delivered the bike to Crea Ocdenaria, a high school junior in the Philippines.
“I felt happy when I found out the bike had found an owner because I heard that she had to walk a really far distance to get to school and I was happy that she could ride a bike to school now,” Gabrielle said. “It’s much easier to.”
Bikes for the World of Arlington, Va., a major bike-donating nonprofit, stores a huge portion of its bikes in Rockville’s King Farm warehouse. Volunteers with the organization collect unwanted bikes and refurbish them, making them suitable for donation.
About 30 of these bikes are set aside annually for the Rockville Youth Bike Program, a program in which students who perform a checklist of six charitable acts are rewarded with bicycles. The list includes earning good grades on five different assignments, helping an elderly or sick person, resolving a conflict peacefully and standing up for a fellow student.
“When the program began, we were trying to encourage bicycling in Rockville,” said Betsy Thompson, the city’s superintendent of recreation. “We started including the charitable aspect and participation is higher now that students have to earn them.”
Gabrielle completed more than six of these tasks but, because she already had a bike, she decided to donate the bike she earned to Bikes for the World.
“We were in touch with this school district in the Philippines and we decided to include Gabrielle’s bike in a donation we were sending there,” said Yvette Hess, outreach coordinator with Bikes for the World.
Unfortunately, delivery of the donated bikes was stalled for six months due to the earthquake in Bohol on Oct. 15.
“The bikes were shipped and about to be distributed when the earthquake hit,” Hess said. “Because it centered around the school district, all of the school buildings were destroyed.”
It wasn’t until May that the bikes finally arrived at the school.
Ocdenaria was chosen as the recipient of Gabrielle’s blue and silver Power Climber bike based on her distance from the school and her family’s financial situation — her father earns about $100 a month.
“The bikes are an incentive for students to stay in school,” Hess said. “It might take an hour to get to school walking, but it’ll take 15 minutes by bike.”
Ocdenaria’s school, Baclayon National High School in Bohol, was chosen because about 90 percent of its students walk to school due to lack of transportation in the area, said Joel F. Uichico, president of Bikes for the Philippines, in an interview.
According to Gabrielle’s mother, Marcie Nadler, Gabrielle was thrilled at the news that her bike had been successfully donated.
“She felt really proud,” Nadler said. “It’s made her feel really determined to help others because it was a very rewarding experience. It’s a nice thing for such a young child to learn to give at an early age. It sets her up for life to help others.”