Student athletes surprise kids with bikes, cash as part of national day of service

Chicago News

CHICAGO — Student athletes from across the Chicago area came together Sunday to brighten the days of a few deserving kids.

As part of a year-long effort to give back to the community, the student members of Buddy’s Helpers brought surprise gifts for a first grade girl, a first grade boy, a college student and a Chicago food pantry on National Philanthropy Day.

While 7-year-old Russell Chambers lost his eye to cancer, he’s always wanted a bike. Through donations from Buddy’s Helpers and the hard work of the students athletes, his wish came true Sunday.

“I’ve been wanting one ever since my birthday,” Russell said.

Not only did they go out and get donations, these soccer players actually made the bike for Russell, putting together every screw, handlebar and wheel.

Buddy’s Helpers is just one local partner of the Pepsico Showdown, which challenges organizations and students to give back to their community. 

They donated a quarter of a million dollars to places like senior centers, homeless shelters and help for victims of domestic violence.

Lalo Rodriguez has been part of Buddy’s Helpers for years, and was acknowledged for his work serving others with a $500 check Sunday. He said the money could be used for books and other college expenses.

Soccer coach Alvaro Perez has been a mentor to kids for decades, and says he’s seen how working hard on the field and doing good in the community changes them.

“I say this to parents: you give us a child and in four years we’ll give you a man,” Perez said.

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