Event will include music, refreshments and children’s activities
LOUISVILLE – Mayor Greg Fischer is inviting the public to join in a street festival on Saturday, Sept. 17 at the Southwick Community Center to help kick-off celebration of the annual Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards later that evening.
As part of the festival and in memory of The Champ, the city and Schwinn will provide free bicycles to 100 children who earned the opportunity by completing Bike Louisville’s Bike Sense program at a Metro Parks and Recreation community center.
Several hundred children participated this summer in the Bike Sense program, which teaches safety skills, including how to avoid hazards on the road. Representatives of Bike Louisville selected 100 of those children for the free bikes, based on program requirements, including attendance, participation and a sense of responsibility. They’ll also receive a helmet and bike lock.
“We were all energized by how the community came together in June to remember and honor Ali, our hometown son, and this event is meant to help keep that spirit alive,” the Mayor said. “Bikes, kids and cops – it’s a combination that so reflects the start of Ali’s career, when a Louisville police officer took an interest in one young man who later would become ‘The Greatest.’”
Louisville Metro Police officers will present the bikes, in a tribute to the day in 1954 that Louisville police officer Joe Martin met a young Cassius Clay, whose bike had just been stolen. Clay told the officer, who also ran a boxing gym, that he wanted to “whup” the person who took the bike, and Martin replied that he ought to learn to box first. Martin then trained the young man, who later would become Muhammad Ali, a three-time heavyweight boxing champion.
The bikes will be presented at noon during the festival, which runs from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Southwick Community Center, 3621 Southern Avenue. (The Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards are that evening at the Marriott Louisville Downtown.)
Besides the bike donation, the Mayor’s street festival will include music, refreshments and kids’ activities. Nearly two dozen LMPD officers will be at the festival throughout the day, interacting with children and their parents, serving food and helping children with their bikes and helmets.
The Mayor thanked Schwinn, a division of Dorel Industries, for the bike donation.
Dave Duecker, Schwinn’s Vice President of Product Development, said in early August that the company was pleased to partner with Bike Sense for the donation. “The inspiring story of a young Cassius Clay reacting to the theft of his red Schwinn bike is legendary,” Duecker said, “and we immediately accepted the City’s invitation to participate in this innovative event.”
The Mayor also thanked Clarksville Schwinn, owned by Bob Peters, for donating staff time to assemble the bikes, as well as Greg Scheller, Peddle Power and the Brain Injury Association of Louisville for providing support; KFC, which is donating food, and Metro Councilman-elect Brandon Coan, D-8, who worked to arrange the bike donation.
He also praised the contributions of Metro Parks and Recreation; LMPD; Bike Louisville and its manager, Rolf Eisinger; and the Mayor’s Special Events team for organizing and staffing the event.
“This is how extraordinary things get done, when we pull together,” the Mayor said.
To enroll in future Bike Sense programs, parents and children should visit their local Metro Parks community center. For a list, visit www.bestparksever.com.