By SrA Alexis Suarez , 927th Air Refueling Wing
/ Published July 25, 2020
Lennon Little, son of Staff Sgt. Rachel Little with the 45th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, tests out his brand new bike in Tampa, Fla. Lennon received his first new bike from the Kids Wish Network during the Project Toy Drop. (Courtesy Photo)
Alexa E. Duarte, daughter of Master Sgt. Carmen De Leon-Acosta, Aircrew Flight Technician, rides the new bike she helped build in Tampa, Fla. Alexa is one of the many kids that received a new bike from the Kids Wish Network Project Toy Drop at MacDill Air Force Base. (Courtesy photo)
Smiling ear to ear five year old Lennon Little, son of Staff Sgt. Rachel Little with the 45th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, says good-bye to his hand-me-down bike and hello to a brand new lime green and black bicycle. Now you can find him riding up and down the neighborhood in his new wheels along side his older brother Tripp who is ten.
The Kids Wish Network provided 50 bikes to service members from the 927th Air Refueling Wing as part of their Project Toy Drop during the last few weeks.
"Since Family Day was canceled because of COVID pandemic, we wanted to donated bikes for the families,” said Tam Lai, Kids Wish Network Executive Director. “With the pandemic happening we figured the bikes would be great to get kids outside and playing.”
Kids Wish Network started in 1997 with the sole purpose of granting wishes for children suffering with life-threatening conditions. Since then they have expanded and have taken on other projects to benefit children nation-wide such as Hero of the Month, Project Toy Drop, Holiday of Hope Gift Banks, and A Child Forever Funeral Assistance.
“Military children experience many stresses, from frequent moves to missing and worrying about a parent who is deployed so far away,” said Lai. “Project Toy Drop is a way we can show our appreciation for the sacrifices military families make for our freedom.”
The Kids Wish Network donated toys, games, puzzles, stuffed animals and beach themed items during the 2019 Family Day, this year bikes were dropped off sporadically and distributed to reserve members.
“My daughter was so excited about receiving her bike, she even helped me build it with her play tools,” said Master Sgt. Carmen De Leon-Acosta, aircrew flight technician from the 927th Operation Support Squadron. “She loves her new bike so much.”
The COVID pandemic left many families to work at home or have their children homebound to do schooling with little to no social interaction with other kids their age; the Kids Wish Network helped expand the activities kids and families can do at home with providing bikes for our service members.