Skip to main content

Chargers Official Site | Los Angeles Chargers -

Chargers Surprise 100-Plus Students With New Bikes During Holiday Season

Bikes for Kids 23

One of the Chargers longest community traditions continued during the holiday season last week as the team got in the festive spirit giving away bikes at Sunrise Elementary School in Boyle Heights.

The Chargers Impact Fund, Pechanga Resort & Casino and the Bikes for Kids Foundation teamed up to surprise over 100 second and third-graders at the school with a brand new bike and helmet.

"As the Impact Fund, one of our favorite holiday events because it spreads so much cheer, happiness and pure joy of seeing these children light up," Adriana Cox, the Special Advisor for the Los Angeles Chargers Impact Fund, said. "They do such great work at school, from the principal to the teachers, so it's so deserving and why we continue to do this."

This was the 19th consecutive year of the event, which featured a handful of former Chargers players that helped with the surprise.

Antonio Gates, fresh off his induction into the Chargers Hall of Fame member, was on hand for the event and was joined by Chargers Legends Larry English and Kassim Osgood. Bikes for Kids Foundation CEO Bill Pollakov also joined the assembly as they read the "winning" essays about their dreams written by students at Sunrise Elementary School.

After all the essays were presented, Pollakov surprised the children with the news that everyone would be getting a bike, not just the winners — and it set off a frenzy of excitement among the students.

"Amazing, amazing," Gates said about seeing the students' reactions to the bikes. "I saw a lot of faces, a lot of smiles, a kid was even crying at one point. It showed me that these kids are really intuitive with the emotions, they're intact with it. They understand what it means to have a bike."

Cox added: "When the big announcement comes that they all win bikes, it's the epitome of holidays. You feel the holiday spirit and the pure joy from these children. You see laughter, you see tears, you see hugs and jumping up and down, and it really does fill your heart. This is why we continue to do this event and spread kindness and happiness through the holidays."

Sunrise Elementary Principal Luis Barraza was grateful to see Gates, English and Osgood on hand and explained just how much this surprise meant to the students of the school.

"They mean a lot because we know where these kids are coming from and we know the needs that exist in their homes, in their lives," Barraza said. "And we know there are opportunities to impact them with the gift of kindness.

"To see the reactions when it first happened, not only that a couple of them were going to get bicycles, but all of them and just to find out that there were good people that gave up a Saturday to put all these bikes together for them," Barraza later added. "Seeing that really dawn on them was very special for us to see."

For many of these kids, it was their first time ever having a bike — but the impact of it could stretch even farther than just that assembly.

On a bigger scale, a gift like this can not only change the life or situation of a child's life, but also make an impact on their future dreams.

"Times are tough, but this is the holiday season and what's more important during the holiday season than the smile of children," said Ken Perez, Pechanga Board President. "This is a real special thing for us, to be able to give back to kids. These kids work hard, and they worked hard getting their education and moving forward. It's just something that we hope will really encourage them and encourage others to remember that this season is about giving."

Pollakov added: "I'm positive that at least one of them, it's going to change their lives. And for many of them, it's going to get them out of bad situations. I can tell you story after story of people who have become really successful way beyond the expectations when we handed them their bike. It's pretty darn neat that they are able to achieve success in life."

For the 19th consecutive year, the Bolts continued the tradition of surprising local elementary school students with brand new bikes for the holidays. The Chargers Impact Fund, Pechanga Resort & Casino, and Bikes for Kids Foundation provided a gift of a lifetime to over 100 second and third grade students at Sunrise Elementary School. Newly inducted Chargers Hall of Fame member, Antonio Gates, and Chargers Legends, Larry English and Kassim Osgood, and Pechanga Board President, Ken Perez, joined the festivities to surprise the students with the news. The bikes were built by Bolts Community Crew volunteers and kept hidden from the students until the Legends revealed the holiday surprise.

Events like these are ones that Gates always looks forward to, even 24 hours after his induction into the Chargers Hall of Fame.

"You just never know what you can do, how something so small can impact a child for the rest of their life and can make a difference. That's what it's about," Gates said. "When you have a platform, it's all about making a change, making a difference and setting an example."

"This is my favorite part of the year," Gates later added. "Just the season to give and receive, and there's no better feeling than giving back to these kids. To see the facial expressions on these kids to getting bikes, it brings me so much joy, and that's what it's all about.

"To use your platform to give back as much as you can, but more importantly for me to allow these kids to dream and hope because that's what it's about for these kids," Gates said. "They are our future, our next generation and we set the standard, we show them the way."

Bolt Up!

Secure your Chargers Mini Plan today! Click here to learn more.

From Our Partners