Three-wheeling for a cause

Event teaches safety, aids research hospital
By: Jenifer Gee, Journal Staff Writer
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Tiny tykes turned out in full force Saturday afternoon for the fourth annual Trike-a-Thon to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Donned in helmets donated from, the 3- to 5-year-olds rapidly pedaled and had a few near-collisions while lapping Teddybear Lane and Hugwell Circle. Parents with cameras cheered from the shaded sidelines as they watched their racers take to the track set up on a tennis court at Meadow Vista Park. Creative Kids Preschool & Child Care in Meadow Vista organized the event in conjunction with the hospital. Patrick and Jeanette Witz, co-directors and owners of the preschool, said they put on the event because they want to teach kids to help others, and to learn bicycle safety. “It educates the children and motivates them to help those in need,” Patrick Witz said. Patrick Witz said preschoolers and their parents collect pledges prior to the Trike-a-Thon. On the day of the event, they turn in their pledge sheets, are assigned a number and take to the track. Last year, 36 tricyclists rode 103 combined miles and raised about $1,700. This year, Patrick Witz said they hope to beat that amount by about $500. Crystal and Joe Kerzel, parents of 4½-year-old Troy, contributed to that goal by collecting $600 in pledges. The couple — one works for Hangtown Electric and the other at Salon Jay-Williams in Auburn — said they asked customers and coworkers to donate what they could for a good cause. Joe Kerzel said he even received $200 in one day. “Everyone was very generous when they heard it was for St. Jude’s,” Crystal Kerzel said. Joe Kerzel added that the hospital’s cancer research program is important. “We’ve lost people to cancer,” he said. As Troy took a breather from zooming around the track, he said he liked to ride his bike and rang his bell several times. “It’s fun because I have my trike and because I have my bell,” Troy said. Near the Fill-um-Station, where riders could stop for water and healthy snacks donated by Raley’s and Bel Air, Kristin Borcherding and her daughter Kendall, 8, stood with a bottle of water and an apple handy to refuel their racer, Rachael. “We’re Rachael’s pit crew today,” Kristin Borcherding said. The 5-year-old would frequently screech to a halt after rounding St. Jude’s Lane and open her mouth wide as Kendall squirted water into it. Before Rachael took off for another lap, she said she liked riding in the Trike-a-Thon because it was fun. “You get to ride your bike and you get to go fast,” Rachael said. The event also brought out crewmembers from the Placer Hills Fire Protection District. Tim Robinson, captain of the district, was on hand to properly fit riders with the donated helmets. “We think it’s important children understand the importance of bike safety,” Robinson said. “We’re out here making sure kids understand how to wear a helmet properly and to make sure they understand why they need to wear a helmet.” Patrick Witz said the ability to bring together different groups in one event was a plus for the preschool and the hospital. “It’s basically about community involvement,” he said. “We’re all working toward something.” The Journal’s Jenifer Gee can be reached at jeniferg@ or by posting a comment.