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Brightening the Holidays for Northern California Fire Victims


Giant Bicycles and cycling retailers team up with local agencies to distribute 300 new bikes to area residents affected by October’s devastating wildfires.

SANTA ROSA, CALIFORNIA – The week of October 8, 2017, was the deadliest week for wildfires in California history. Burning more than 245,000 acres in total, the fires in Northern California forced 90,000 people to flee—often with little warning. Tragically, at least 44 were killed and 185 were hospitalized by the wind-whipped flames. When the smoke finally cleared weeks later more than 8,900 structures had been destroyed, many of them homes.

Now, long after first responders and the media have pulled up stakes and moved on, area residents are left with the long, difficult task of rebuilding. Giant Bicycles and local cycling retailers were heartbroken by the loss and devastation and joined a wave of support for those affected.

Giant donated 200 Momentum Park bicycles and partnered with local retailers to distribute them to fire victims in both Sonoma and Napa counties throughout the holiday season.

“So many families and individuals lost everything they had, including their bikes and cars,” says Giant Account Executive Sophie Eaton, who led Giant’s fire relief program. “There were also many children who lost their bikes in the fires, and this has been a big part of all the ongoing bike donation drives throughout Sonoma and Napa counties.”

The Momentum Park is well-suited for the fire relief program; it’s designed to put riders in a relaxed, foot-forward pedaling position and is easy for anyone to ride.

In Sonoma County, 100 Momentum Park bicycles were distributed this past weekend on December 10 at the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office with the help of the Marin Fire Department and the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition.

Aaron and Carolyn Thompson, owners of Giant Partner Store Bicycle Brustop in Novato, worked tirelessly to build these bicycles. “Sophie approached us about amazing donation idea and we were happy to take responsibility for assembly,” says Carolyn Thompson. “Like everyone, we’re short staffed during this busy holiday season, but there was no way we were passing up this opportunity to give back to the community.”

Bicycle Brustop sent out an email to its customer base asking for help. “We were overwhelmed by the show of support,” says Thompson. The store ended up hosting three “build parties” where volunteers pushed the store’s fixtures to one side and created a makeshift assembly line. “Our store was abject chaos, but it was a lot of fun,” says Thompson. “It was also humbling to the shake the hands of people who had lost everything and see the gratitude they had for the bikes.”

According to Alisha O'Loughlin, executive director of the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition, “At a time when so many within our community have lost so much, it’s wonderful to see the smiles on people’s faces when they receive a shiny new replacement bicycle. We are so grateful to Giant and so many others who joined together to bring some joy and normalcy to our friend and neighbors in need.”

In Napa County, 100 Momentum Park bicycles will be donated through The Hub Bicycle Shop in Napa, with the help of the Napa County Bicycle Coalition. Keith Kimbrough, the owner of The Hub Bicycle Shop in Napa, and his staff assembled the bikes and will be donating them to victims throughout the Holiday season.

A used bike drive was also organized with three area Giant retailers: Eden Bicycles in Castro Valley, Hyland Family Cycling in San Jose, and The Hub Cyclery in Cotati. “Claire and Chaz Fetrow, owners of The Hub Cyclery in Cotati, managed the drive and personally fixed up many of the bikes,” says Eaton, noting that more than 100 used bikes were donated.

“I’m so glad Giant was able to get this donation going for the North Bay Fire victims,” says Eaton. “The wildfires were just devastating to the region, both in terms of personal loss and future economic development. There’s still a long waiting list of victims for bike donations, so our 200 Momentum Park bikes will make a big difference!”

Monday, January 8, 2018