An Algonquin boy whose mother is away serving the nation was surprised with a brand new bike at school Tuesday afternoon.
Ian Alexander Morales Nava, 6, was one of about 100 young children throughout the Chicago area who received a new bike built by high school student athletes. The effort was part of the “Making A Difference On AND Off The Field” campaign presented by the Buddy’s HELPERS nonprofit and the PepsiCo Showdown.
“It was a good surprise,” said Ian, a kindergartner at Eastview Elementary. He spoke with his mom via Facetime after receiving the black and neon green Huffy two-wheeler.
His teacher, Alexis Cayton, said Ian is very much deserving.
“I think it’s awesome,” she said. “He’s such a good kid.”
Cayton her students refer to his mother as being in “soldier school.”
“We’re going to use it all summer, aren’t we?” Cayton told Ian.
Jacobs High School girls soccer athletes raised funds for the bike and built it. They were at the unveiling Tuesday.
“It’s amazing, it’s really uplifting,” said Jacobs senior Cassie Kowalski. “It’s really exciting to see a smile on the faces and all the kids in the classroom were supportive.”
Kowalski said it wasn’t too difficult to build a bike because the pieces were easy to assemble.
“It’s really cute,” she said.
Coach Colin Brice said he’s proud of his student athletes.
“It feels awesome, especially to teach some of the girls that giving back is important. It’s not just about soccer, but life lessons,” he said.
Ian’s mother, Pvt. Claudia Nava, is in the Illinois National Guard and currently deployed in South Carolina. She is a member of the 634th Brigade Support Battalion. April is National Military Child Month.
Joe Trost, founder of the PepsiCo Showdown, said it’s important to teach high school students the importance of giving back.
“At the end of the day, 1% will go on to play professionally, but all of them can go on to be leaders in life,” he said. “You can go out and make a difference.”
Ian’s grandmother, Dominga Flores, said the surprise was “beautiful.”
“He’s excited but he’s a little shy because of all the people,” Flores said after the event while carrying balloons.