Chargers players surprised more than 100 students at Bennett-Kew Elementary School in Inglewood with new bikes Tuesday. The event began with the athletes addressing the importance of education and community pride at a school assembly. The Chargers then read contest-winning essays written by students in the room and presented the winners with bikes.
But that wasn't the extent of the surprise, which has now been executed by the team and the Bikes for Kids Foundation for 15 consecutive years.
"It's so exciting, because I've been holding this secret for about a month now," Dr. LaRoyce Murphy, the school's principal said. "The students were so excited about writing the essays, (but) this entire event was a surprise for them. Christmas is about surprises."
At the perfect moment, when the students were sure that all the gifts had been given out, the players brandished bikes for all the kids in attendance, along with helmets and bike locks.
"It's always fun to see how they react," defensive end Joey Bosa said. "This is my third time out here, and every single time, it's such a big surprise."
Linebacker Uchenna Nwosu added that it felt "great to see all the good smiles on these kids' faces."
"The excitement in the room was great," Nwosu said.
Bosa and Nwosu each fondly remembered what getting a new bike meant to them as kids.
"Me and my brother got (a bike) the same year, and we used it for 10 years, probably," Bosa said. "They'll get plenty of use out of it...There'll be packs of kids riding around with that same bike."
"I remember it through these kids," Nwosu said. "I felt exactly how they felt when I got something new, a new bike especially. That's something you want to use every day as a kid, so it brings back so many memories."
Hearing the kids' essays also resonated with the players.
"To see these kids have different dreams and aspirations and…hearing how they're inspired...and what they realize is important to them in life, that's what it's all about," Nwosu said. "These kids are headed down the right path and have the right heads on their shoulders."
"The kids sounded really bright," Bosa said. "All their hopes and dreams that they talked about, it was really inspiring. To be able to inspire kids to follow me in my profession, it's awesome."
Bosa mentioned being impressed by a child who dreamt of becoming both an NFL player and a professional in another, though very different, prestigious field.
"If he can pull off being a doctor and a football player, that's awesome," Bosa said.
With Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr. in attendance, the event took place amidst the backdrop of the Bolts' new state-of-the-art home, SoFi Stadium, at which the team will begin playing its home games next season.
Nwosu said that building relationships with the Inglewood community is "huge" and referred to the city as "home."
"It means a lot, just for the simple fact that I'm from California," Nwosu said. "I'm from Los Angeles. This hits very home to me."
Nwosu added that an added benefit of an event like this is that it "gets as many people involved with (the Chargers) as much as possible" and vice versa.
Bosa, who said he has made working with kids a personal emphasis since reaching the NFL, also felt strongly about impacting the community.
"I think, as a football player, it's always important to reach out in the community and make sure you affect the youth," Bosa said.
Joey Bosa, Uchenna Nwosu, Isaac Rochell, Michael Badgley and Justin Jones joined the Bikes for Kids Foundation and California Resources Corporation to surprise over 100 deserving students at Bennett-Kew Elementary School in Inglewood with new bikes.
Bill Pollakov, the founder and CEO of the Bikes for Kids Foundation, knows how invested the Bolts organization is with giving back given his foundation's longstanding partnership with the team.
"We've been together for so many years, and they're there all the time for us," Pollakov said. "They've never said no to anything that we've done, they've been here for our kids, they come here on their day off, they take pride in what they do, they get here on time, and it's a great event."
Pollakov attributes this reliability to the strong "leadership" within the organization.
For Murphy, the Chargers' role in her school's event wasn't "just the icing on the cake."
"It's the butter, the eggs, the sugar," Murphy said. "It's all the good stuff that goes inside of the cake. The Chargers are amazing. We just really feel like superstars right now, and our children feel like superstars…The Chargers really made this an exciting day for our scholars...This is a day we will never forget. This is history now."