‘Strive for success’ – 65 kids gifted new bikes for Christmas


INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Community members surprised 65 elementary school students with new bicycles Saturday as a reward for ‘striving for success’ despite financial shortcomings.

IRC Sheriff’s Maj. Milo Thornton (right) with All For Children Inc. Founder Dominique Slater

Indian River County sheriff’s Maj. Milo Thornton and All For Children Inc. Founder Dominique Slater hosted the event at Intergenerational Recreation Center. With help from donors and school resource officers in Vero Beach, Sebastian and the county, Thornton and Slater were able to identify students who were in need, but also showed eagerness to learn and achieve greatness.

“Some of the parents were crying when we called them because we considered their child,” Thornton said. “It’s heartwarming knowing we can make that type of impact on someone.”

All For Children Inc., established as a non-profit in September, held another giveaway Nov. 22 in Lake Worth. For that event, Slater said the organization surprised 100 children with new bicycles.

Slater lives in Fort Lauderdale, but is originally from Vero Beach. The non-profit founder said she wanted to host one more giveaway before the end of the year.

That’s when she reached out to Thornton.

“Everyone knows who he is and that he’s a person of excellent character,” Slater said. “We posted the event on social media and donors came to us.”

Thornton and Slater were able to raise funds provided by donors to purchase the new bicycles at $75 each. The donors also supplied 12 bikes for the event, Thornton said.

Then, school resource officers spoke with teachers to help identify the 65 students who would be chosen to get the new wheels, Thornton said.

“We have some awesome people in Indian River County, but I happen to reserve one of the biggest pieces of my heart for our law enforcement officers,” School District of Indian River County spokeswoman Cristen Maddux said in a social media post on Facebook. “Thank you to Milo Thornton, his friend Dominique and all of our school resource officers for making this event possible.”

Thornton thanked all of the donors who participated in the giveaway.

“We hit all of the elementary schools. We told parents not to tell the kids why they were there,” Thornton said. “When the curtain came up and the kids saw the bikes, they were surprised and shocked. It was an exciting time.”

This was the first All For Children Inc. bike giveaway event held in Vero Beach. Thornton and Slater said there will likely be more events in Vero Beach hosted by the non-profit in the future.

“We did it on a short notice and had about two and a half weeks,” Thornton said. “We’ve got good people here.”

Thornton said he knows firsthand how it feels growing up in an underprivileged environment.

Thornton said he was raised by a single mother who worked three jobs to raise four children on a fixed income. Thornton gave credit to his mother for making that sacrifice to assure he and his siblings had everything they needed.

For Slater, organizing the bike giveaway events is something she does out of the kindness of her heart. The event for Thornton was humbling.

“I like to help out anyway I can,” Thornton said. “There will always be families who will need a little help. We have to keep the Christmas spirit alive. The children will grow up and have their own families.”

Photos by Milo Thornton



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