Bikes or Bust Expected to Be Bigger & Better Than Last Year - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

12/03/05

Bikes or Bust Expected to Be Bigger & Better Than Last Year

For years, the Mississippi Coast Coliseum has been the site for Bikes or Bust.

The annual bike drive for children in need has become a Christmas tradition here in South Mississippi.

It seemed like Katrina put a damper on this year's plans, but organizes say this year's drive is not only expected to carry on, but to be bigger and better than last year.

"You know, Bikes or Bust with K99 FM started ten years ago today. We started raising bicycles for the Salvation Army to distribute," said Reggie Bates of Clear Channel Radio.

A lot's changed since K99 launched Bikes or Bust a decade ago, especially this year, in the wake of Katrina.

"There are so many children here, obviously, the whole world has seen has seen what's taken place. We were in a meeting with the Salvation Army regionals, and we asked the question, how many bikes would it take to replace all the bikes in those three states (Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana), which is the three states they cover, sixth grade down. He told me a week later, 100,000. It's never been that many bikes gathered in the history of America," said Wal-Mart manager Dempsey Bell.

In years past, a K99 FM deejay stayed in an airborne camper until hundreds of bikes were collected for children in need.

But this year, volunteers are taking their campaign to the road.

"What we're doing is a historical bike ride," Bell said.

Over the next six days, Wal-Mart managers from three states will log more than 300 miles on bicycles, traveling to Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, all to collect bikes for children in need.

Organizers admit collecting 100,000 bikes will be challenging. But they say the drive is already moving in the right direction.

"Just to give you an idea, a lady, a man walked up to our store and said, here's a $3,000 dollar check. We had a lady stop by a few minutes ago from up north. They're sending 400 from some church," Bell said.

"It's a community thing, and it's going to help a lot of kids have a happy and merry Christmas," said Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway.

The Salvation Army will distribute the bicycles to needy kids.

If you'd like to make a contribution, call the Salvation Army's toll free number at 1-800-SAL-ARMY.

By: Toni Miles

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