I was six when I learned to ride a bike without training wheels. At nine, I began to enjoy the freedom of riding without an adult by my side. I remember the wind blowing through my hair, racing down hills at harrowing speeds (before bike helmets were a thing!), and roaming the neighborhood like I owned the place. I remember bike trips with my best friend to the public library and afterward, to Doomy’s Pizza, just down the street from her house. Most of all, I remember the fun. And the incomparable sense of freedom.
Every child deserves to feel that. And because of Bob and Glenda Biggerstaff and a group of more than 30 of their friends, every residential child in Crossnore’s care gets to. Since 2012, the group, affectionately known as Biggs Bikes, has donated approximately 570 brand new bikes to Crossnore’s residential children.
A Calling for the Biggerstaffs
It all started in 2011 with a phone call from Glenda, who was up at Grandfather, to Bob, who was in Greensboro. “She called me and said, ‘We’ve just adopted a cottage at Crossnore School,’” says Bob. Glenda laughs. “It was really a God thing, because I never do anything without consulting Bob first, but I just felt called to this.” Over the next several years, Bob and Glenda regularly served the children dinner, took them to Grandfather Mountain, enjoyed beach play days, took them Christmas shopping, took the girls for mani/pedis, and more. They even spent their 50th wedding anniversary with the children of Grace Cottage!
In November of 2012, a new sibling group of four arrived at Crossnore, and like many of the children we serve, had brought very little with them. Bob and Glenda had come to serve Thanksgiving dinner to several cottages. Afterward, everyone was outside playing and riding bikes, but these four children didn’t have one. After inquiring, Bob and Glenda were told that there weren’t enough bikes for every child to have one. Our bike supply, at that time, was hit or miss, based on donations.
The following Monday, Bob and Glenda met the cottage parents and the four siblings at Walmart, and each picked out their very own brand new bike. “It was so emotional watching them pick out their bikes,” says Bob, “and we decided right then we wanted every kid who came to live here to have one.” And so it began.
An Even Greater Need
But in 2017, Crossnore School merged with the Children’s Home. And now there was a whole new campus of children who needed bikes. The Biggerstaffs knew they were going to need some help. Bob first turned to his friends, Raymond Greene and Doug Potter. They contributed to the cause, but Raymond suggested they ask their amazingly generous friends at Starmount Forest Country Club in Greensboro to get involved. And boy, did they, especially when Bob promised to match, dollar for dollar, anything they donated. “It became a game to get in my pocket,” laughs Bob, although the twinkle in his eye tells me he doesn’t mind at all.
With all this generosity and friendly competition, Biggs Bikes now purchases bikes for each residential child and the inventory, parts, tools, and supplies for bike shops on both our Avery and Winston-Salem campuses. This past December, the group raised more than $18,000, providing money to build four bike shelters on the Winston-Salem campus and more than $3,000 to re-supply the bike repair shops on both campuses.
The Amazing Starmount Club
Rich Farrell, a Starmount member, tells of the email chain of 60+ club members who regularly meet whatever need arises in the group. “Whenever there is a need, there’s never a question. It’s just ‘I’m in. How much do you need?’” In addition to bikes, the group has given bags and bags of donations to our Sales Store, and donated truckloads of furniture for young adults in our Youth Independent Living program. Matt Kibble, another member, agrees. “It’s a special thing to be part of this club. Being a new member, standing on the green, taking a picture with these guys… it’s something. They’re long standing members and they haven’t just been playing golf at the club. They’ve been doing something.”
And it is a huge and powerful something, not just for the children who receive, but for those who give. Doug tears up, voice breaking, as he tells about a fellow member’s pre-teen son, Owen, who knocked on his door one Christmas, cash in hand. Owen and his siblings had made and sold more than 200 Christmas light balls to friends and neighbors. “He knocked on my door and said, ‘Dr. Potter, this is what I’ve earned and I’d like to give it to your bicycle fund.’”
A Right of Passage
The children at Crossnore don’t just receive a bike. They own it. They are responsible for it, learning how to take care of it and repair it in the shop. It is 100% theirs, and they take it with them when they move on to their next place. For many of the children here, it is the first time they have really had something of their own. Glenda recalls a special moment when a child received his bike and was mesmerized by the kick stand. “Wow! I’ve never had one of those!” he exclaimed.
As I sit chatting with the Starmount Club members, they all recall getting their first real bike. “Your bike was your big moment,” says Matt. “It’s the first time you own something of value. It’s a milestone.” Rich adds, “When you get your first bike, you feel like you’re not a little kid anymore. It’s a right of passage.” And because of the Biggerstaffs and 30+ members of Starmount Forest Club, all of Crossnore’s residential children get to experience that right of passage.
Whether it’s a small pink bike, complete with basket and streamers, or a 26-incher with gears and hand brakes, what it means for each child is the same. Value. Responsibility. Independence. With that metal frame, handlebars, tires, and if they’re really lucky, a kickstand, Biggs Bikes sends a love note to each child. “You are worthy. You have the right to be a kid. And you deserve every happiness in the world.”