UPDATE, July 17:  The need for bikes has grown! The Race4Chase program is in need of 52 bikes, not just 26…

The Wilton YMCA runs an amazing program that helps kids in need, all in honor of 6-year-old Sandy Hook victim Chase Kowalski. Chase, who loved triathlons, has inspired a movement called “Race4Chase,” which gets kids who typically wouldn’t have access to summer programs and organized exercise involved in a triathlon program. In its third year, there are now 55 kids ages 6-14 enrolled in the six-week program, taking part in a daily training summer camp and getting ready to run, bike and swim.

The Wilton Y and its partners in the program–the Wilton Police Department and Realty Seven–are in urgent need of 26 more gently used bikes for the kids who are participating. The bicycles are needed now so the kids can train for the race on Aug. 4. They’re hoping the Wilton community will help supply these bicycles. [We’ve got details at the end of the article with how you can help.]

Many of the children participating have very little. They’re identified through social service programs and other organizations like the Norwalk Housing Authority. Two of this year’s participants are currently residents at the Norwalk Open Door Shelter. Not only does the program give these children a healthy outlet–for many of them it’s the first summer program they’ve ever participated in–it provides them with so much more, including breakfast and lunch, and even sneakers and supplies like a water bottle and backpack.

GOOD Morning Wilton had a chance to visit the program during its daily routine, and we spoke with Mary Ann Genuario, the health and wellness director at the Y. Also on hand were Peg Koellmer from Realty Seven (which supplied the participants with brand new bike helmets) and Lt. David Hartman of the Wilton Police Department.

We also had the opportunity to see the kids meet Lt. Hartman, who took a lap around the track with all the participants.

The bikes that are needed should fit children ages 6-14. They should be gently used (not brand new, as they want all the kids to have equal footing) and in good working condition. Bikes with training wheels are especially appreciated. Realty Seven is working in conjunction with the Wilton Police Department to collect the bicycles–bikes can be dropped off at the Wilton Police station (240 Danbury Rd.) or contact Koellmer to arrange for pickup (work:  203.762.5548; cell: 203.451.8479).