Vero Beach preschoolers take to trike track to help St. Jude’s hospital

VERO BEACH – Children at Community Preschool in Vero Beach took to their marks, lining up on their tricycles and bicycles with training wheels Wednesday morning to help raise funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. More students will do the same Friday.

“It’s not a race,” one adult could be heard shouting out to the children just as the annual Trike-A-Thon kicked off.

The kids either didn’t listen or didn’t care, challenging each other to ride faster and faster in a loop around the covered drop-off at the preschool at Community Church of Vero Beach.

“Not so fast there, speed demon!” preschool teacher Cheri Gandy called after 4-year-old Austin McFarland, who had taken the curve too wide and too fast that he nearly careened into a parent watching and cheering along the “track” edge.

Pink, purple, red and black bicycles and tricycles raced, sometimes bumping into each other and causing minor collisions.

“It’s great,” dad Tom Pease said after watching his daughter, 4-year-old Emma, cycle for the cause.

“It doesn’t come without accidents,” he said with a sigh, adding that the kids go home with bumps and bruises, but they have fun.

“It’s wonderful,” fellow dad Luke Steadman said. “They know what it’s about.”

In the week or so leading up to the the Trike-A-Thon, preschool teachers have been busy teaching the kids about bicycle safety, the importance of wearing helmets, and following the rules of the road.

They also taught the children about the mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital – and how they’re fund-raiser would help other children who are sick.

“Who better to do it, than a bunch of three- and four-year-olds?” Pease asked.

Since 1996, when Community Preschool began hosting the event, the school, its children and their parents have helped raise nearly $30,000.

Last year, they raised more money than typical – $3,700.

On average, the school raises about $3,500 each year. This year’s total won’t be tallied until after next week, according to Community Preschool Director Stephanie Morby.

“They’re having fun and they’re learning,” Morby said of the children. “It’s a win all the way around.”

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