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By SHAINA STOCKTON
The annual Galax Bike Rodeo will be held this Saturday at Galax High School parking lot, and parents and children of all ages are invited to join in.
Brenda Marrah, grants administrator for the city, anticipates a large crowd. “We had a wonderful turnout last year, despite the cold snap,” she said. “The kids were zipping around on their bikes even before the course was set up.”
The event will begin with a discussion about bike safety from Galax Police Department officers, followed by a safety check of each bike.
A drawing will be held for four prize bikes, two donated by the Galax Rotary Club two more donated by the Elks Lodge. Marrah said that five bikes were given away last year, and that four of the winners did not own a bike. “It seemed to play out perfectly,” she said.
Galax students and city residents will also be eligible to receive a free helmet. Helmets will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
There will be refreshments available and a cook-out for lunch.
This event was made possible by a grant award from Prevention Connections, a non-profit Foundation for Healthy Youth, said Marrah. Their goal is to instill healthy habits in children as early as possible. They also sponsored “Walk-to-School Day,” in Galax schools on Wednesday.
Forty percent of Galax students live within a 2-mile radius of the schools. However, only 4 percent are walking or riding bikes to school, said Marrah. In that area, there are several problems with the sidewalks, which make them potentially unsafe for the children to use. Thanks to grant awards, a plan is set to repair the sidewalks.
Marrah hopes that these repairs, along with new bike rack installations for the school parking lots, will be completed by 2014.
Marrah plans additional events like these in the future, utilizing even more of what the area has to offer. One spot in particular she wants to explore is the New River Trail, which offers both proximity and natural beauty.
The full team working on these Safe Routes to School events includes Marrah, Galax Elementary School Principal Brian Stuart, Galax Middle School Principal Kristie Legg, Galax Middle School Assistant Principal Derrick Spence, Galax High School Principal Dr. Jody Ray, Superintendent Bill Sturgill, Parks and Recreation Director David Nelson and the Galax Police Department.
“It’s these little things that have the most impact [in our community],” said Marrah.