How it all started...
Now 19 years since its inception, the Variety Bikes for Kids program was the brainchild of Variety past Chair, Life Member and Ambassador Derryn Hinch
Reflecting on how much his very first bike meant to him, under difficult financial circumstances for his family, Derryn campaigned to make sure all kids can enjoy the freedom of a bicycle.
In 2002 Derryn started a radiothon on 3AW that ran for 10 years. Since then the annual appeal has delivered over 12,000 bikes for kids.
The Variety Bikes for Kids program is particularly unique as it allows supporters to personally see their impact through their attendance of a special event with Derryn, where they can hand a bike directly to a child.
"The Variety Bikes for Kids program is the epitome of what my favourite charity does best – providing tangible equipment with a direct impact on the quality of life of local children in need. An impact that both you and I get to see firsthand. My own family struggled through hard financial times. Like all parents, my mum and dad wanted the best for me. That’s why they did everything they could to give me the joy of receiving my very first bike - something I’d always dreamed of." Derryn Hinch
Meet Matthew and Lee our Variety Bikes for Kids Challenge Patrons getting on their bike for kids in need and read the story of our founding patron Derryn.
Matthew is one of the world’s favourite cycling commentators, who covers events all over the globe including none other than the Tour de France! For three years, Matt was the host of First Off the Bike, a weekly cycling and triathlon radio show on 1116 SEN. He is also a regular guest on ABC Grandstand, 3AW and 6PR.
"Bikes have always been a big part of my life and, even though I now get to commentate on the Tour de France, nothing beats the memory of a new bike for Christmas. When I got a new bike as a kid it felt like the world had opened up to me and I dreamt of exploring every corner of the globe. Many kids don't get this opportunity and the chance to dream big.
Now as a parent, I get even more joy out of seeing the happiness a bike brings my kids.
Lots of parents unable to afford this for their children. But through Variety Victoria's Bikes for Kids programs we can all make a difference in someone's life by giving them the joy of going for a ride."
Known for his colourful cycling kit Lee "Hollywood" Turner brings joy and happiness to bike riding! Lee loves exploring Melbourne by bike and the comradery it brings. Lee is a well-known MC, commentator and Bicycle Network lead rider, most recently featuring on the cover of Bicycle Australia magazine.
"For kids a bike represents a sense of freedom & independence and every child no matter their circumstances or background deserves their chance of that. I want to see more kids on bikes enjoying the same freedoms and fun they brought and continue to bring me. A simple bike can mean so much for a child and I don't want any child missing out just because they are disadvantaged. The Variety Bikes for Kids program can be that difference to help a child in need so they are not left behind. Bikes are fun and bikes are social and why should any child miss out on that. I'm on board because I want every child to have that big smile I had when I jumped on my first bike".
When I was about ten I got my first two-wheeler. I had worked hard at weekends and before school on my father's milk run. I thought I might be rewarded with a bike for Christmas.
On Christmas morning I got home from the milk run and was disappointed there wasn't a bike under the tree. But I did get a bike that Christmas. My parents had hidden it at the end of a long piece of string. I followed the trail down into the basement. And there it was.
And when I saw it, I looked at it and I cried.
I didn't care that it was a second-hand bike. Didn't care that the peeling chrome handlebars had been gussied up with that silver paint they used to smear thickly on the old coal range.
I didn't even care that it was a girl's bike! It was MY bike. My first two-wheeler.
Believe me. I have personally seen these kids' faces as they receive their new bikes and helmets. It is magic. Thank you for joining me to provide this joy to kids who would otherwise miss out.