JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Eleven Jacksonville children were riding brand new bicycles Saturday thanks to a partnership with their school and Jacksonville Gullah Geechee Nation Community Development Corporation.
Shadai Otero, Demetrius Reed and Tyavion Mitchell were among the Matthew Gilbert Middle School students to receive bikes.
“I might be able to go places that I couldn’t go to before,” Shadai said.
It’s probably safe to say the 12-year-old spent most of the day riding his brand-new bike.
The bike was the first Demetrius, 12, has ever owned -- and he’s already planning to share.
“My little brother has always wanted a bike, so I am going to let him ride it for a long time, and then I have cousins, they had a bike, but it broke, so I am going to let them ride it, too,” Demetrius said.
And 12-year-old Tyavion has big plans for his new wheels.
“When I grow up, I want to become a professional bike rider and help people become professional, too,” he said.
It was the third giveaway for the Jacksonville Gullah Geechee Nation Community Development Corporation, according to president Saundra Moreen.
The organization helps communities throughout Jacksonville recognize the Gullah and Geechee people.
According to gullahgeecheenation.com, people from various African ethnic groups joined with indigenous Americans and created the unique Gullah language and traditions, from which later came “Geechee.” The website says the nation extends along the East Coast from Jacksonville, North Carolina, to Jacksonville, Florida, and 30 to 35 miles inland along the St. Johns River.
The nation, which has been around since the time of enslavement, was internationally recognized in July 2000.
“Most people of color are generally descendants of the African-American enslavement,” Moreen explained. “Here in Jacksonville, we have a blended, diverse community and a lot of times, you may not think you’re Gullah-Geechee descendants, but you just possibly could be.”