After theft, hundreds show up for annual bike build event

The Scott Campbell Christmas Promise bike build also saw hundreds more bikes donated after a recent theft from the charity

VANCOUVER — The theft may not have been as big as initially thought, but that didn’t stop hundreds of people from showing up this past weekend to help put together bikes for local kids.

“I went from heartbroken to overjoyed, overwhelmed,” said Cyndi Holloway with Waste Connections. “I just never knew this would exist.”

Cyndi Holloway with Waste Connections carries on the tradition of her predecessor, Scott Campbell, with the annual bike build. Photo by Chris Brown
Cyndi Holloway with Waste Connections carries on the tradition of her predecessor, Scott Campbell, with the annual bike build. Photo by Chris Brown

Last Tuesday thieves made off with 16 bikes and a number of bike helmets that were being stored for the annual Scott Campbell Christmas Promise bike build event, out of a semi truck in the 192nd Avenue Walmart store parking lot. The retailer quickly pledged to replace the stolen bikes, but word got out to the public of the theft and the outpouring of support was swift.

“We had people all the way from London, and Boston, and Canada making donations to us this year,” Holloway says.

Before the theft, Holloway says they were expecting to have around 700 bikes to donate. By Saturday, four days after the story got out, the number was quite a bit larger. “Close to a thousand bikes this year, and that is the biggest bike build we’ve had in the eight years we’ve been doing this.”

Saturday close to four hundred volunteers showed up at Building 4 on the Vancouver Tech Campus to help put the bikes together, clean up all the cardboard, and do whatever they could to help the cause.

Balloons are handed out to kids at the annual Scott Campbell Christmas Promise bike build event. Photo by Chris Brown
Balloons are handed out to kids at the annual Scott Campbell Christmas Promise bike build event. Photo by Chris Brown

“We had 24 work stations with four tables each,” Holloway says, noting that that’s twice the number they had last year. “We had the Boy Scouts come. We had Girl Scouts. I mean we had everybody show up that had spare time and a big heart.”

Holloway says she isn’t sure how it was initially reported that the theft was much larger. Members of the group reported a line of cars loading up bikes, adding up to nearly two hundred stolen. By Wednesday night Vancouver police said the actual total was just 16. Holloway believes people would have jumped to help them either way.

“It’s pure Christmas,” she says.

On hand to help assemble the bikes were dozens of volunteers from Bike Clark County, the Vancouver Bike Club, the local Swift racing team, and bike shops across the area.

Dozens of volunteers check bikes to make sure they’re safe. Photo by Chris Brown
Dozens of volunteers check bikes to make sure they’re safe. Photo by Chris Brown

“Just fantastic to see the energy of people going towards this event and assembling a bike,” said Peter Van Tilburg, Executive Director of Bike Clark County, “and knowing that this is going to be translated to happiness on a kid’s face when they get to open a holiday present or have the bike under the tree.”

There were at least 70 people working to assemble the bikes, then they were moved over to a final check area where dozens of experts made sure every nut and bolt was tightened to specifications. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and other local children then took each bike for a test ride, before they were parked alongside hundreds of others waiting to be delivered.

Volunteers Terry Toland and Peter Fels examine a bike to make sure it’s safe at the annual Scott Campbell Christmas Promise bike build. Photo by Chris Brown
Volunteers Terry Toland and Peter Fels examine a bike to make sure it’s safe at the annual Scott Campbell Christmas Promise bike build. Photo by Chris Brown

On Tuesday morning the bikes will be loaded up and taken to Vancouver Police Headquarters near Officers Row. From there they’ll be led by a police escort to be delivered to charities including Bike Clark County, Santa’s Posse, and others.

“A lot of kids are going to get to have a really awesome Christmas because of this,” said Vancouver City Council member Ty Stober who showed up to help out.

The bike build was started by former Waste Connections spokesman and civil servant Scott Campbell who passed away in September of last year. The event was named in his honor after his death.

“I remember when it was 75 bikes, and he thought that was a lot, right?” says Holloway with a laugh. “He’s been gone a year, and I can definitely say this is our best bike build yet because he probably had a little something to do with it.”

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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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