Algonquin boy surprised with new bike for Month of the Military Child
A 6-year-old Algonquin boy received a new 20-inch bicycle Tuesday as a present from local high-schoolers who assembled it for him in honor of Month of the Military Child.
Ian Alexander Morales Nava, a kindergartner from Eastview Elementary School, was treated to the surprise class visit from three Jacobs High School girls soccer players who presented him the shiny bike. His grandmother held balloons and livestreamed the happy event via FaceTime to his mother, who is in training with the Illinois National Guard at Fort Lee in Virginia.
Perhaps shy because of all the attention, Ian had few words -- "It's good," he said of the bike -- but was visibly happy, smiling and beaming at everyone.
Ian is among 100 kids in kindergarten through second grade who received new bikes assembled by Chicago-area high school student athletes as part of the "Making A Difference On and Off The Field" campaign by the PepsiCo Showdown sports series and its nonprofit arm Buddy's Helpers, which engages student athletes in community service.
The campaign has donated bikes to children in the past, but this was the first event specifically benefiting military kids, said Joe Trost, executive director of PepsiCo Showdown. Month of the Military Child recognizes the sacrifices made by children when one or both parents are on active duty.
About 3,000 high-schoolers each donated $1 and PepsiCo Foundation donated another $3,000 to buy the bicycle assembly kits, Trost said. The students gathered April 13 at Olympic Park in Schaumburg to build the bikes, and Ian's bike was the first delivery in the suburbs, Trost said.
"It was really exciting," Jacobs senior Cassie Kowalski said. "It was really cute, he (Ian) was so happy. Everyone was clapping,"
Her classmate Andie Voss agreed.
"It was uplifting … The poor kid, he doesn't see his mom very much, so at least we could give him something to get his hopes up," she said.
Ian's grandmother Dominga Flores said Ian, who moved in with her and her son's family, misses his mother a lot.
"I am with him all the time," she said. "This is very emotional for me."
Ian's mother, Claudia Nava, said she, too, was touched and grateful for the gift to her son.
Nava, a member of the 634th Brigade Support Battalion, left for basic training in January and expects to graduate from advanced training in mid-June. As for why she joined the Illinois National Guard, "I've always wanted to serve others, that's the number-one reason," she said. "Number two is to have a better life, a better opportunity for Ian and myself."