Kids’ kindness rewarded with donated bikes

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Cycle for Success program rewards kids for kindness

by Alison Stanton

Mark Roden congratulates the winner of a new bike.

A partnership between Subway Kids & Sports of Arizona and The Salvation Army, the Cycle for Success program provides a new bicycle to two children per month during the school year at at-risk schools in the Phoenix Valley area.

The following story appeared in The Arizona Republic. For more information about this program, visit the website at

Like many of us, Mark Roden has fond childhood memories of the hours he spent riding around his neighborhood on his bike with his friends.

But through his work as chairman of Subway Kids & Sports, Roden realized that many kids are missing out on the joys of bike ownership. Kids & Sports is a non-profit program sponsored by Subway restaurants that helps provide sports equipment, uniforms and registration fees to at-risk children.

Four years ago, Roden, an Ahwatukee resident who owns 47 Subway restaurants and four Cold Stone Creameries, teamed up with The Salvation Army to form a program called “Cycle for Success.”

Through the program, Roden works with principals and teachers from schools in at-risk communities and asks them to nominate first- through sixth-graders who have performed acts of kindness at school.

Each month, Roden selects two children from a school and presents a new bicycle, helmet and bike lock to each. As a bonus, Subway donates lunch to each student’s entire classroom. So far, he has given away about 200 bikes.

At Manuel Pena Elementary in Phoenix, Roden donated two more bicycles. “We wanted to do something that would motivate them to be better citizens and demonstrate to other kids the benefits of doing that,” said Roden, adding that it was important to him to create a program that rewarded kindness and that also encouraged children to exercise.

“Oftentimes these are kids who are overcoming the odds or facing things in their home life, but they still come to school every day. They actually show up and are really try to work through a lot of things.”

Roden said that it has been very heart-warming to see the reaction of other students when they learn who has been selected to receive a bike. “I was thinking it would be hard, that the kids would all want a bike, but so many times when we say the name, the kids will say ‘Yes! Yes!’ I’m not sure if I would have felt that way when I was a kid.”

Kara Welch, a language-arts coach at Evans Elementary School in Tempe, saw this reaction firsthand when Roden donated two bikes to students at her school last school year.

“The kids really knew it—when we went into the fourth-grade class and said the name of the little boy, you could just the kids saying, ‘Oh, he really deserved that.’ They just knew and it was a great reward,” the Ahwatukee resident said. “I think it’s a great program. It’s great for the kids and the community, too. A lot of the kids wouldn’t get such a thing otherwise.”

Special for The Arizona Republic
Excerpts used by permission.

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