Lafayette bikers group rewards students

Lafayette bikers gave away 20 new bicycles this week for Christmas to fifth-graders at Immaculate Heart of Mary School and Alice N. Boucher Elementary, a gesture to reward students who excel and inspire others to do likewise.

Ten-year-old Amiyah Martin could not wait to share the news with her aunt, who picked her up Wednesday afternoon from Immaculate Heart of Mary.

“She came running to tell me,” Sherita Matthews said. “When I got here, that’s the first thing she mentioned: She received a bike for being a good student.”

But perhaps nobody was more surprised than the bikers, who were in awe of the gratitude they received, which included an acapella version of “Amazing Grace” from young Amiyah.

“These kids really enjoyed this,” said Abraham “A.B.” Rubin, of the Lafayette Regional Bikers Coalition, the group that organized the giveaway.

Rubin, who is also president of the Down ’n’ Dirty Motorcycle Club, said the coalition of African-American motorcycle clubs raised nearly $1,000 from a bowling tournament to buy the bicycles.

They were able to leverage their funds with the Wal-Mart on the Ambassador Caffery Parkway.

The coalition’s goal was to encourage academics, have students “step up their game” and to recognize achieving students who normally do not win anything, said Kevin Catalon, president of the Dirty Riders Motorcycle Club.

“We didn’t have that coming up,” Catalon said. “We want to do something to motivate them to bring up grades. We want to give back to the community.”

Immaculate Heart of Mary School Principal Edith White called the bikers’ actions “very, very thoughtful.”

“At this time of the year, we like to celebrate the accomplishments children have done, and what a thoughtful way,” said White, who later let the children ride their new bikes on the breezeway at school.

“Hopefully, they will come back,” she said of the students.

On Thursday, the scene was repeated at Alice N. Boucher School, where Rubin rode his motorcycle into the school cafeteria where the children had assembled.

“It was a wonderful surprise,” Principal Annette Samec said.

Friday’s agenda includes handing out toys at the Truman Montessori School, Rubin said.

The bikers say they are ready to top this year’s event in 2014, but for now are preparing for another bowling event to raise funds for an Easter egg hunt.

“The reason we ride and do charities is to give back to the community,” said Jermaine “Chief” Mealy, president of the Front Runnerz Motorcycle Club.

Rubin said he hopes the coalition’s actions will help to change any misconceptions that the public has about bikers due to negative incidents, the media or television shows.

But he said their main focus remains the children.

“That’s our future,” Rubin said.