TAMPA — In early 2011, Drew Weatherford and several friends biked around the Tampa area. It was a beautiful day that brought back memories of their youth and their first bicycles.
The memories and the occasion spurred the group of bikers and friends to create Onbikes, a Tampa-based nonprofit that donates bicycles to underprivileged children during the holiday season.
On Saturday, Onbikes will host its third annual Winter Wonder Ride to raise money to buy more than 300 bicycles for children in Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties this holiday season. The Tampa Tribune is a sponsor of the event.
Preregistration and check-in begins at 1 p.m. at Hyde Park Village, 1602 W. Snow Circle, Tampa. The family-friendly bicycle ride starts at 3 p.m. from Hyde Park Village to Bayshore Boulevard.
Bicyclists will head south to Gandy Boulevard and then turn back to Hyde Park Village. Police officers will control traffic with officers in front and at the rear of the ride, which is expected to attract more than 500 bicyclists, said Weatherford, co-founder and president of Onbikes.
In the first year the organization donated bicycles, Weatherford said, Onbikes board members went to children’s homes to deliver the bicycles.
“The smiles on the kids faces is extremely rewarding,” said Weatherford, of Tampa, who also is well-known as a quarterback for Florida State University from 2004 to 2008.
Now the organization, which was founded in 2011, has grown and serves a larger number of children. It works with a number of organizations that help identify the children who are in need of a bicycle. The children who receive the bicycles range in ages from 6 to 15, Weatherford said.
“We think they learn a lot,” Weatherford said. “A sense of personal responsibility. It promotes wellness, getting out there and exercising.”
After the bicycle ride, Onbikes will host a party with music, food trucks and a Pepin beer truck. At 9 p.m. the party will move to Irish31, 1611 W. Swann Ave., Tampa.
Registration the day of the event is $50 per person. For those without a bicycle, ride organizers will have bikes for rent for $10.
For more information on the event, visit onbikes.org.