Act of generosity no practical joke; Comedians donate bikes to GBV kids.
WORCESTER - Twenty-four youngsters in Great Brook Valley are the proud owners of new bicycles thanks to two comedians who decided to turn laughs into action at their former stomping ground.
With about $2,000 raised at a comedy night benefit over the winter, local comedians Jesus R. "Ralph" Candelaria and Orlando Baxter yesterday came back from Toys R Us with the shiny new two-wheelers, some with training wheels, some without.
"We hoped we'd have enough money to get bikes for the older kids and the younger kids, but we decided to do it for the younger kids," said Mr. Candelaria, whose full-time job is as a city police officer.
Mr. Candelaria said the dates are tentatively booked for another fundraiser next summer, and he said he hopes to be able to organize something for years to come.
Both Mr. Candelaria and Mr. Baxter, a local comedian whose day job is as a student support teacher at Sullivan Middle School, grew up in Great Brook Valley. Mr. Candelaria said growing up in single-parent households with little money for luxuries like bikes made the pair want to organize some sort of charity benefit to give back.
"I lived there 18 years," Mr. Candelaria said.
The pair organized a comedy benefit in February at the PNI Club on Millbury Street. It went so well, they're looking to make it a weekend event next year, with a dance and possibly a roller-skating night.
Mr. Baxter said he attended the day care at Great Brook Valley when he was young, and said he'll never forget the children's faces when they pulled up with the bikes yesterday. He and Mr. Candelaria tried to work with the Great Brook Valley Center to make sure all the children receiving bikes didn't already have one.
"It was a cool feeling," Mr. Baxter said.
CUTLINE: (1) Jayden Vega, left, and Jeyse Nortey try out their new bicycles yesterday at the Great Brook Valley apartments. (2) The 24 bikes were distributed to children at the Worcester Comprehensive Education and Care Center at Great Brook Valley yesterday.
PHOTOG: T&G Staff Photos/MARK C. IDE