The threat of bad weather didn't prevent the Bears coaching staff from continuing a training camp tradition on Thursday, August 16. Since becoming head coach in 2004, Lovie Smith has had his coaches use bicycles instead of golf carts to get around the campus of Olivet Nazarene University during camp. Following the last practice, the coaches donate the bikes to deserving area children.
The Bears and head equipment manager Tony Medline once again worked with several local agencies, including the Bourbonnais Police Department, Catholic Charities and the Iroquois-Kankakee Regional Office of Education, to identify 21 children to receive the new bicycles.
Many of the kids weren't sure why they were being invited to camp, other than to receive a "surprise." After the final horn sounded, the coaches began wheeling over the bikes to some shocked and very excited children. The coaches spent a few minutes visiting with the kids, explaining how to shift gears, adjust the seat, and asking what they planned to do with their new wheels. In addition, each child received a water bottle, lock and helmet.
Since 2004, Coach Smith and his staff have donated over 160 bicycles to children in the Bourbonnais-Kankakee area.
In addition to the Coaches' Bike Giveaway, the Bears hosted over 300 children from Chicago-based non-profit organizations throughout training camp. Kids from the Chicago Park District, Special Olympics Chicago, Special Olympics Illinois, the Starlight Foundation and United Neighborhoods Organization (UNO) were invited to camp where they watched practice from their own private seating area, hung out with Staley Da Bear, had lunch, and received autographs from Bears players and coaches. [