Written by: Anneke Godlewski
TOLEDO – Bikes for Kids’ first bicycle giveaway will hold special meaning for two families this week, as Kayla Meeker’s 10-year-old sister, Carly, will be presenting the winner with the extra bike that was donated in Kayla’s name.
Nicknamed “Kayla’s Bike,” the extra bicycle was donated as a way to honor 2009 Bikes for Kids winner Kayla Meeker, who took her own life at 16-years-old after being cyber-bullied. The winner was scheduled to be chosen on June 9th – a date that held extra special meaning in the Meeker family. On June 9, 1999, Kayla, then a 17-month-old foster child, was brought to the Meeker family to be adopted. June 9, 2014 was Kayla’s sister, Carly’s, 10th birthday.
“When we learned of the significance of June 9th, I asked Carly if she would be willing to choose the winner of ‘Kayla’s Bike’ on her birthday,” Anneke Godlewski, of Bikes for Kids, said. “Carly happily agreed, so I called her on June 9th, read her the choices, and she chose Destiny Rivera, a 13-year-old girl from Findlay who recently beat leukemia.”
Destiny was nominated by her mother, Melissa, for her unwavering strength after being diagnosed with monosomy and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) this past November, which progressed into acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Despite chemotherapy, radiation, and two bone marrow transplants that required Destiny to be isolated for 86 days in her hospital room, Destiny still kept her upbeat attitude.
“Destiny is one of the strongest people I know,” Melissa Rivera said. “She has shown other children with cancer that they should keep fighting and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. After being stuck inside a hospital for almost three months, Destiny is ready to go outside and play like a 13-year-old should.”
The Rivera family even started social media campaigns on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram called “Team Destiny” so that friends and family can rally around the teen and show their support by sending words of encouragement and by posting photos of themselves wearing orange “Team Destiny” t-shirts and bracelets.
“We try to live one day at a time and make lots of memories with our loved ones,” Melissa said. “Always tell the people you love how much you love them, because tomorrow is never promised!”
On Thursday, June 12th at 2pm, the Meeker and Rivera families will be on hand at Wersell’s Bike and Ski Shop, 2860 W. Central Avenue in Toledo, to help Carly Meeker surprise Destiny with the brand new “Kayla’s Bike.” The bike unveiling will take place at 2:15pm.
If you know of a child who exhibits Destiny’s same strength and resilience during times of adversity, please let us know by visiting www.BikesforKidsToledo.com and telling their story. Together we can work to recognize kids who make a difference in the lives of others and inspire others to be kind to their friends, family, classmates, and community.