KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Christmas came early for a handful of military kids who went to the Pfizer facility Wednesday afternoon. Dozens of brand new bikes were lined up near the company’s fire station and the kids picked out their favorite ones and took them home free of charge.
“The coolest thing about this whole thing is that we’re building bikes for kids,” said Pfizer team leader and volunteer Jesse Palmer about the company’s Bike Build event. “It’s right around the holidays. This is a really cool event.”
Over 60 employees with the global supply company volunteered during two shifts to put together 75 new bikes for kids whose mother or father were away on active-duty. They transformed their on-site fire station into a makeshift warehouse, complete with six ‘building’ stations. The bikes came in boxes where volunteers at the first station put the parts together. Once it was assembled and decorated with ribbons, volunteers wrote a personalized note for each of the kids.
“We’ve also got another station where we’re doing quality control on the bikes,” said Palmer during an interview at the event. “Last thing we want is for a kid to get a bike and have the training wheels fall off.”
Palmer said nationally there’s at least eight sites partaking in the event, assembling in total 1,000 bikes. Pfizer as a company has been doing this for four years. This is the first year the Kalamazoo site has participated. As soon as they were invited to join in months ago, they immediately got the local army office involved.
“I’m actually kind of jealous of the kids getting them,” said volunteer and U.S. Army Sgt. Nicholas Nelson. “I wish I was just a little bit smaller to ride them myself. But, no it’s great. [I’m] having a lot of fun with the team back there.”
Each of the bikes that were built cost between $200-$400, Palmer said. Pfizer paid for all of them. Palmer considered the bikes not only to be beneficial for the kids but also served as 'thank you' to their parents and the work that they do.
“The reason that we’re here is because of what the veterans are doing for us,” said Palmer. “At the end of the day for me it was really about giving back to the community. What's cooler than building a bike for kid.”