400 “Bikes for Excellence” awarded to HISD fifth-graders

As members of the Thin Blue Line Foundation & Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club roared up to Stevens Elementary, students poured out of the school to welcome them. Last week, the club visited four HISD elementary schools to present 400 bicycles, helmets, and locks to fifth-graders at C. Martinez, Sherman, Stevens, and Wainwright elementary schools. The bikes are awarded to students who have excelled in academics, personal conduct, and attendance.

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Known as Bikes for Excellence (B4E), the mission of the program is to recognize and reward students as they leave fifth grade and prepare to enter middle school in the fall. The funds for the B4E program are provided by the Lester and Sue Smith Foundation.

“You worked hard in elementary school, and you earned these bikes,” Thin Blue Line President Rico Garcia told students. “You will face many challenges in the future, and I don’t want you to learn the hard way like I did.”

Garcia joined a gang when he was 17, and when August of his senior year came around, he didn’t return to Jefferson Davis High School. But by October, his father had convinced him to return to school, where he was placed in a class with teacher Marion McWhorter, who got him a job and made sure he graduated. Garcia went on to become a policeman, serving the community for more than 35 years.

“Everyone in our motorcycle club is a law enforcement officer and a product of HISD,” Garcia said. “We owe a lot to the district, and that’s why we want to give back. I am the oldest of five boys, and we are all policemen. We are here to humanize the badge – we want you all to remember that every cop is also a son or daughter, father or mother.”

B4E founder and coordinator Martha Jaimes spoke to students as well. “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail,” said Jaimes, who is also a teacher specialist at Stevens. “I know that all of you have the ability to be successful, but you need to have a plan in place.”

Parents attended the presentation of the bicycles as well, and lunch was provided for all attendees by James Coney Island.