In the Good News Category: Denver bike giveaway puts 750 kids on wheels

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Based on smiles, hugs and tears of joy, it was hard to tell who was happiest or most satisfied: the 750 Denver kids who received brand-new, free bicycles, or the 4,800 volunteers who assembled the bikes.

Denver-based DaVita Inc., one of the largest kidney care companies in the United States, pulled off the feat, tapping mostly employees, in town for an annual multi-day company meeting, as the bike builders.

The massive bike assembly and subsequent giveaway, a year in planning, was witnessed by staff from Guinness World Records.

“What if we do the biggest bike build in history?” said James “Skip” Thurman, senior director of communications with DaVita. “This all came to fruition, it’s extraordinary.”

In a big hall at the Colorado Convention Center, 1,100 unassembled bikes, still in cartoons and covered with colorful cloth, awaited the throng. A black zippered bag with tools needed for assembly, sat atop the boxes.

As the volunteers arrived, music blasted and colorful lights flashed across the room. People danced and gave each other high fives and fist pumps.

Dave Hoerman, chief wisdom officer of the health care company, stood on an elevated stage in the middle of the cavernous room and rallied the troops.

He encouraged volunteers to be thorough in their assembly, making sure to tighten and secure all nuts and bolts — the safety of the children who would be riding the bicycles depended on them. He encouraged the builders, mostly in groups of four, to work in tandem as a team. Hoerman then announced that the bike building would be timed, and bikes should be complete in 15 minutes.

Whistles, groans and hoots of nervous laughter filled the hall.


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