Pedals For Progress Sets Record


“Pedals for Progress is a great way for high school students to truly have an impact on the lives of others around the world. The one thing that I like about it is that it has a direct impact on other people’s lives,” Pedals for Progress advisor Daryl Detrick said. (Photo by David Zimmermann)

David Zimmermann, Staff Reporter

Organized by the Chess Club, the annual Pedals for Progress Used Bicycle and Sewing Machine Drive took place in front of Warren Hills in mid-April, where volunteers were greeted by donated bikes and sewing machines.

Dating back to the late 1970s, the idea behind Pedals for Progress was born when David Schweidenback, who later founded the non-profit organization, realized that his landlord was making more money than everybody else in the local Central American community that he lived in. The reason that the landlord was making more money was because he rode a bike to work every day, allowing him to travel in between jobs more quickly.

Despite this realization, it wasn’t until 1991 that Schweidenback decided to collect and ship used bicycles to foreign countries. His decision allowed less fortunate peopleto have the same opportunities as the landlord in Central America.

Pedals for Progress started out with only 12 donated  bicycles. Twenty-nine years later, Pedals for Progress has now collected and shipped over 150,000 bikes to Third World nations all over the world. Since then, sewing machines have been also been collected

Chess Club Advisor Daryl Detrick, said he started Pedals for Progress at Warren Hills because he was inspired by one of his former students. Back in 2004, the student was leading a bike drive for his Eagle Scout project, and he asked if Detrick could help out with it. Detrick said he was so impressed that he decided to continue the event as a Chess Club community service project.

Detrick said that the bicycles and sewing machines actually increase employment, educational, and healthcare opportunities for people in Third World countries.

“The bikes and sewing machines are collected because in this country we would basically throw them out, and they would no longer be useful to us,” he said, “but in developing countries, they can change people’s lives.”

After all, Pedals for Progress’ motto is “Putting used bikes to good use.”

“Pedals for Progress is recycling at its best,” Detrick said. “It’s things in this country that we don’t need or don’t appreciate that can be sent to other countries, which can actually help change people’s lives.”

This year, the drive was a success, collecting a total of 141 bicycles, 39 sewing machines, and $2,336. These items were sent to Vietnam, impacting over 100 families. Compared to past years at Warren Hills, this year’s drive was the best one by far, beating last year’s record of 92 bikes, 37 sewing machines, and $1,632

Detrick said he was pleased with the turnout and hopes to continue this upward trend in the future.

“I think the students did an excellent job, helping organize it and working at it,” Detrick said. “Unfortunately, it was a very cold and chilly day, but we had about 15 students that spent three hours there processing bikes and sewing machines, which had a positive impact on 180 families in Vietnam.”