Former first-grade teacher Katie Blomquist is on a mission to provide kids with the most basic right: joy. She started a fundraiser to give bikes to students in need, and it's quickly evolved into an inspiring nonprofit called Going Places. Katie set up a GoFundMe in 2016 and raised a whopping $80,000 after she realized many of her Title 1 students in North Charleston, SC, had never ridden a bike and probably wouldn't get the chance to own one. She was able to buy new bikes (plus locks and helmets) for all 650 students at her low-income, high-poverty elementary school. That campaign is over, but her fundraising is still going strong.
In fact, Katie stepped away from teaching in order to focus on being the executive director of Going Places. "A bike provides these children with a sense of freedom, escape, and a way to decompress. A bike also provides to these kids with a sense of childhood and innocence when, in many situations, that's been taken from them," Katie explains in her nonprofit's bio. In a more recent GoFundMe called Spreading Joy With a Bike, Katie and her supporters are continuing to raise funds and are working toward a $40,000 goal to provide bikes to students at a different South Carolina elementary school in May.
Watch the inspiring video above to hear about how Katie founded Going Places in her own words, and then keep reading to see heartwarming photos of the kids in action. "A bike is one of many things that represents joy" during childhood, she says. The delighted looks on the kids' faces say it all!