By Marcy Miranda

For 7-year-old Anthony Fernandez, Saturday was a day to remember.

The first-grader at Putnam School of Science received his first bicycle Saturday afternoon, a cherry red model with two training wheels, courtesy of the Fort Collins Bike Co-op.

Anthony was one of 60 students from Putnam who received a free bike and helmet for winning a contest held by the school, said Kristen Dart-Gmeiner, a third-grade teacher at the school.

Anthony’s mother, Angelica Cid, said Anthony was counting down the hours until he could go to the co-op and pick up his bicycle.

Bill Heistermann fits 6-year-old Arissa Frikken for a bike helmet as the Putnam School of Science student waited to receive her free bicycle Saturday at the Fort Collins Bike Co-op. (V. Richard Haro Rich Abrahamson Dawn Madura/The Co)

“He said, ‘we can’t be late,’ ” with urgency, she said in Spanish.

Immediately after seeing his new bicycle, Anthony got to work on learning how to ride it, practicing in the parking lot outside the co-op.

Also riding outside was 9-year-old Krista Grossmann, who received a pink bicycle with gears and handle brakes.

Grossman, a fourth-grader, wrote a winning essay about what she would do with a bicycle, although the excitement of winning made her forget the content of her essay.

“I was really, really excited to win,” Krista said.

Dart-Gmeiner approached the co-op several weeks ago and asked to see if they would be interested in donating bikes to Putnam students, 80 percent of who qualify for free and reduced lunch.

“For a lot of our kids, a bike is a real expense,” she said.

Students who entered the contest either drew a picture or wrote an essay about what they would do with a bicycle, depending on their grade, Dart-Gmeiner said.

Volunteers with the co-op visited the winning students at school to measure them and fix a bicycle that would suit them, said Rick Price, safe cycling coordinator for the co-op.

The bikes given to kids were first donated to the co-op and were repaired before going out again, he said.

In the next few weeks, the co-op will host bicycle safety classes and bike rodeos at Putnam and Laurel School of Arts and Technology. Students will learn the rules for safely riding on the street.

Other cycling organizations in town, including the city’s Safe Routes to School program, have also hosted rodeos throughout the year.

Original Story – 04-25-2010 – Coloradoan