Christmas came early for 100 second grade students at Hunter Hills Elementary Friday though the efforts of a Catholic priest, a national bike company and one of its local distributors.
Father Jim Sichko is one of 100 priests across the United States that has been tasked by Pope Francis to travel the country as an evangelist.
Among the tenants of the faith that Sichko tries to impart is to be kind to each other and to practice random acts of kindness.
That led to the event at Hunter Hills.
Sichko said in speaking with Nancy Cox from WLEX channel 18 about other areas.
“It wasn’t something based on need. But we said where is a school, where is a community that this would be a really big surprise? Really something special?” Cox said.
After speaking with a station staff member from Laurel County, who consulted with family members, Hunter Hills was chosen.
“As soon as we talked to Mr. Bond (the principal) it immediately worked out,” Cox said.
Bond said it was a case where God connected the dots to make this work out for the best.
Sichko said he chose the second grade, thinking it would be one class of approximately 25.
However, when he spoke with Mr. Bond he learned the school had 100 second graders.
“I told him I was just going to do one class, but after I hung up the phone I started thinking, ‘What if I wasn’t in that class? I would feel pretty bad,’” Sicko said adding that he called Bond back and told him he would get bikes for all of the second grade students.
“Then I hung up the phone and said, ‘How am I going to do that?’” Sichko said.
Sichko began calling bike companies across the country. Among the calls was to Trek Bikes in Waterloo, Wisconsin.
Not content with talking to just anyone, Sichko asked for and was able to get CEO John Burke on the phone.
Like any good CEO, Burke passed Sichko over to his assistant with instructions to work out a deal on the bikes.
Sichko was put in touch with Scheller’s Fitness and Cycling, which has locations in Lexington and Middletown, and Evansville, Indiana. Scheller’s is a local distributor for Trek bikes.
“We worked out with them and they gave me an unbelievable, unbelievable amount for bikes,” Sichko said adding the bikes came completely assembled and were delivered to the school Friday morning from Wisconsin.
In addition, each student received a new helmet.
“This is the largest I have ever done,” Sichko said explainging that in the past he has given away $100 bills to someone in need, or purchased food for someone.
Sichko told the students that just as kindness has been shown to them by this gift, they should always be kind to others.
“Everyone of us can be kind. It cost nothing to be kind,” Sichko told the students.
“Be kind to others and kindness will always come back to you,” he said.
Bond said this event was truly inspired by God.
“I don’t know what else to say. It is one of the few things that has ever left me speechless,” Bond said.
Sichko said donations from the community are what he relies on to undertake his efforts and welcomed anyone that would like to contribute to do so.
Sichko may be reached by email at email@example.com.
He also has Facbook and Twitter accounts.
“Just Google, “Father Jim,” he explained.