FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. – The employees at Gale, an educational publishing company, and 50 children from the Detroit Public Library's summer reading and math programs were brought together Friday afternoon for a special event in Farmington Hills.
The event was organized by a group of interns at Gale to recognize the children's participation in the Detroit Public Library programs and support the company's Gale Care Initiative, which supports local and national organizations that are focused on education. It was held in the company's parking lot.
The employees at Gale built the bikes earlier in the afternoon without knowing who would be receiving them.
"They (management) haven't shared that bit of information yet. It's a surprise to come later this afternoon," Ashley Patarello, an academic marketing coordinator for Gale, said.
The 250 employees were told that building the bikes was a team-building activity, and they enjoyed imagining who the recipients would be.
"It's fun to think about the little girl that may be riding the bike for the first time and enjoying it," said Julia Furtaw, an executive director for content strategy and development at Gale.
The 50 children arrived on three buses on the other side of the building, where employees could not see them. The children then ran through the building to the other side to meet the Gale employees for the big surprise. All of the children received brand-new bikes for their hard work over the summer.
"Watching a little kid get on the bike and ride around our Gale parking lot really empowers everything we do," said Patarello.
The mother of one of the recipients, Sylvia Obiwuru, said her 3-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn, was very excited.
"She thought it was a regular field trip, nothing special, so she's very happy," she said.
One of the interns, Nick Litton, was pleased to see how their hard work in planning the even paid off.
"I think doing an event like this, where we are rewarding kids for a summer reading program is very special," he said.
The general manager of Gale, Paul Gazzolo, was also excited about the course of events.
"This is so exciting. We are celebrating the joy and power of learning by bringing 50 students from Detroit Public Library's summer reading and math program and giving them bicycles," he said.
He said he hopes the children come back to Gale as interns when they're in college, to make the experience a full circle.
Slow Roll, a Detroit organization, helped inspect the bikes to make sure they were properly built.