Anyone who knows me knows I love my bicycles. And you also know that I’m a self-admitted geek. I’m going to start today by telling you a little story. It has a lot to do with who I am today and why you stop by here to read the words you do on a regular basis.
My family didn’t have a lot of money growing up. My older brother, younger sister and I didn’t get a lot of trips to the toy store – and that was by design. Our parents were (and still are) smart. Honor students, former military and they knew one thing: an education was the stepping stone that would get us on the path towards wherever we wanted to go in life. Toys were for Christmas and birthdays. Books? Those were rewards.
There was nothing better than a trip to the bookstore when I was a kid. Some days, I got to pick out one book. On those days, it’s be a Choose Your Own Adventure volume (because I could read it 9 times and get a different story each pass through). Others, it was a two or three book day. Mad Libs, Nancy Drew volumes, Judy Blume angst gatherings…our family had bookshelves throughout the house that rivaled the downtown Houston public library. We went on trips with books, took them to school, read them at lunch and fell asleep with them. And it’s pretty much a miracle that I love books at all.
I’m dyslexic. Severely. My parents spent hours upon hours with me as a kid trying to get me to “read straight.” Math? Fugghedaboudit. Hate the stuff. My brain can do the work, but it does it with the wrong numbers (and teachers don’t give you points for “close”). But thanks to my parents and trying trick after trick to make the letters and words come out straight so they made sense, I’m living my dream as a professional writer. I write things that people read (which shocks the shit out of me daily, I assure you). I live by spell check and still take notes in longhand because it makes my brain slow down. I proofread and oftentimes read sentences backwards because some days, it’s the only way I can understand what something means. And I can’t help but to think what my life would be like if:
- I’d been able to “read straight” from the get go
- My parents had bought me toys instead of books
Would I be a writer still? I have no idea. But books are important to me and that’s why I’m asking for your help today.
I Want Your Children’s Books
And here’s where the bikes come in. My cycling team, TriBella (including a pic of The Redhead in a cycling kit…and if you’re going to gawk, could you at least fan the page?), has partnered with Ride for Reading, a national program that delivers children’s books to schools in need. This year, we chose Columbine Elementary School due to the number of kids that receive free or reduced-rate lunches on account of the surrounding area’s economic demographics. The state of education in this country is dismal enough without the proposed $332 million in budget cuts that Colorado’s about to take from state educational funding for K-12 programs and I can’t help but to think one thing:
Maybe there’s an Erika in Columbine Elementary School.
So that’s why I’m asking you to send me your children’s books.
How You Can Help
On April 29, the ladies from my race team will be hand-delivering the books we collect to Columbine Elementary School and we’d love to bring as many books as possible. Here’s what I want you do to:
- Talk to your co-workers
- Talk to your neighbors
- Dig through the attic and those boxes in the closet
- Find as many children’s books as you can
- Put them in boxes
- Ship them to our bike shop.
It’s the 5th of April and we need them no later than the 28th. That’s 23 days you have to help a kid like me – maybe a kid like yours – discover the joy of books.
Don’t want to box up books and haul them to the post office or UPS? Here are a few other ideas on how you can help:
- GOOD: Send us a check. Make it payable to TriBella Race Team and we’ll go shopping for you (we’ll even send you the itemized receipt).
- BEST: Drop by Amazon, Barnes & Noble or a place like AbeBooks (a leading used bookseller). Many of these stores have FREE SHIPPING with minimum purchases. Do some shopping (check those Bargain Bins!) and send the books directly to our bike shop.
Money Where My Mouth Is
RedheadWriting will match all donations made in RedheadWriting’s name up to $250. Just make sure you put a note in your box or on the shipment that your donation should be applied to RedheadWriting, mkay? And if you’re in the Denver/Boulder area and would like to make a book donation, drop me a line. One of the ladies from TriBella will come by and pick up your books from your home or office. Voila! So fancy. The ladies on my team have done phenomenal things already and we’d like to thank multiple Barnes & Noble locations and Denver’s own Tattered Cover for their participation in our book drive.
And as a closing note, Ride for Reading is NOT a nonprofit and we can’t offer you a snazzy tax deduction for your donation. It’s just something good to do with your heart and a box to help kids that were once like me discover the joy of reading. Books are a significant part of who I am today. Maybe you feel the same way.
So that’s it. I’m not asking you to vote for me for anything. I’m not asking you to break the bank. We could all do with a little spring cleaning (in our houses AND our souls), so if you can help, here’s the last bit of info you need:
Where to Ship Your Books
TriBella Women’s Multisport
1060 Bannock St.
Denver, Co 80204