Amber Neben, professional cyclist and 2008 Olympian, gave more than 40 bicycles to homeless kids in Orange County, California, this week for Christmas.
Neben distributed some of the Christmas spirit to a number of California families with help from Fuji Bicycles, SixSixOne, the Edge Cycle Sports and a volunteer crew of bike builders.
“I have been through a lot of adversity in my life and I have fought through it and succeeded, but the journey has been far from easy,” said Amber. “I think that it is an important message for these kids at this time in their life. Everything might look hopeless, but it is only temporary. They need to keep fighting, to not give up on life or their dreams. I want to do something and share something with them that gives them hope.”
Neben partnered with the Illumination Foundation, an Orange County non-profit organization that work with the homeless. Neben delivered the bikes to the kids and their families on Monday in Anaheim and in Costa Mesa on Wednesday.
Karen Bliss of Fuji said Neben approached the bike company with the idea. “We said, ‘wow, really? You want to buy 40 bikes? You sure you don’t want to give them teddy bears or something?’ But she insisted and persisted.”
“Amber is one of those people who truly believes in paying it forward,” said her husband Jason Neben. “Amber has had to work for every bit of success in her life. In turn, I think she appreciates how powerful it is to believe in yourself and follow your dreams. And, she wants to pass that message along.”
So why, of all gifts, a bike? “There is an Arthur Ashe quote that says ‘Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.’ I am a cyclist who has achieved things in the sport. These achievements put me in the position to be able to make a phone call to Fuji and others who can help,” Neben said. “I also think everyone remembers the bikes they had as kids — it is a gift that will mean something. How cool to be able to share a Christmas gift and to remind everyone involved about the real meaning of Christmas.”[nggallery id=68]