“A bicycle represents freedom and independence, and that’s one thing they miss,” said Joette Vick.
She and Phillip did everything they could for the children in their care, and talked about what could be done to help them more.
“We had talked about it and decided that when we died, we would ask for bicycles instead of flowers,” Joette said.
Phillip’s sister Glenda Bice of Childersburg remembers him speaking at their mother’s funeral and saying “a bicycle would bring a smile to a foster child’s face longer than flowers would do anybody any good.”
Phillip died less than a year later, at age 48, of congestive heart failure.
More than a hundred bicycles lined the church at his funeral and more were donated in the weeks and months that followed.
That was in 1996, and since that time family and friends have continued working to get bicycles for foster kids, and they’ve even formed a non-profit organization that can accept tax-deductible donations.
Last week family members, friends, members of Vincent Revival Center and members of the Christian Motorcycle Association met at the church to assemble 384 bicycles that will be delivered to foster kids in central Alabama and southern Tennessee. Volunteers with the Phillip Vick Bicycle Fund are partnering with the Kids To Love Foundation to get them delivered.
Phillip’s brother Paul Vick, now a Methodist pastor in New Site, said several churches in the surrounding areas had held benefit singings to help the project, and several other family members are part of a southern Gospel singing group, the Vick Family, that sometimes performs at benefits to raise money for bicycles.
They also have a CD that Phillip recorded which is sold to raise money for bicycles.
“This year will make about 1,900 bicycles,” he said.
“A family member also lays hands on each bicycle, anoints it with oil, and prays that the child who gets it will have someone come to them and tell them about Jesus,” he said.
Terry White, a CMA member and family friend, organized the assembly at the church in Vincent.
He said a major bicycle company sells the family the bicycles at a deep discount and a couple of companies have donated trucking services to get them to the church.
“What we really need is for someone to donate the use of a warehouse-type space with a loading dock for assembly,” he said. The group is expecting to double the number of bicycles next year.
This year bikes in boxes were unloaded from a trailer and carried into the church’s family life center.
They were assembled there, then carried back outside to be loaded back into the trailer.
A loading dock would make that part of the job much easier, and would also provide greater protection from the weather.
Joette is still a foster parent, and says at this point she has taken in 111 children. She said some have stayed two weeks and others have been with her for as long as four years, and she is just grateful to have a business that allows her the ability to work from home to be able to take care of them.
And she still loves to see them ride their bicycles.
“There’s nothing like the feeling of the wind in your hair,” she said.
For more information visit www.vickfamilymusic.com.
Contact Jim Smothers at email@example.com.