WAPAKONETA – A mother’s goal of keeping children safe while riding their bicycles is the focus of the ninth annual Bicycle Safety Day at the TSC garage building in downtown Wapakoneta Saturday, May 13, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Marlene Froning, of Wapakoneta, lost her son Keith Wesley Froning in a bicycle/car crash on Aug. 2, 1983.
“He was only nine years old, full of life and potential when he was taken from our family all too soon,” said Froning. “Not a day goes by when I do not think about him and wonder who he would be today.
“Keith has missed many birthdays, anniversaries, his siblings’ weddings and watching nephews and a niece grow up,” she said. “We never got a chance to tell him one more time we loved him or how proud we were of him. A pain such as that never goes away.”
The Bicycle Safety Day, which is held with the help of the Wapakoneta Fire Department, Wapakoneta Police Department, Auglaize County Sheriff’s Office, DARE Program, St. Rita’s Trauma Program manager and the Noon Optimists, helps educate children and adults on the importance of bicycle safety. Free bicycle helmets are given to those who attend who are 18 years of age and younger.
“There is nothing we can do to bring Keith back to us,” said Froning, “but if we can save even one more child by teaching them the proper rules of the road and ensuring their safety, then it is worth it.
“As Auglaize County DARE Officer Sam Blank has stated, ‘This particular event along with the bike rodeo is important because it’s a constant reinforcement in keeping kids safe on their bicycles and educating them on the rules of the road. Over the years there has definitely been a growth in the event’s popularity and it seems the word is getting out, so while they’re here the kids are not only having fun but building the fundamentals they need to become safer and more skillful riders.”
Wapakoneta Police Chief Russel Hunlock said his department has seen a reduction of bicycle-related incidents throughout the community.
Wapakoneta Mayor Tom Stinebaugh will open the vent. Local race car drivers, Jerry and Scott Bowersock, Weasel Phlipot and Austin Scott, will speak to the children one-on-one about safety awareness, how their helmet is part of their gear giving a relatable and “coolness” factor to being safe and wearing the helmet.
If anyone would like to donate to the program, they should contact Wapakoneta Fire Department Captain Kevin Bellman, 419-738-2014, or Froning, 419-738-8267.