Wilmette tween pairs with hotel chain to provide bikes to needy
Last fall Wilmette tween Nicole Basil presented bicycles collected by her Pedal Power program to students at Chicago's Cesar E. Chavez School. |Contributed photo
WHO: Founder Nicole Basil
WHAT: Bike donation program started in 2008 with the help of volunteers and parents Melissa Basil and Wilmette village trustee Mike Basil.
PARTNERSHIP: With Kimpton hotel chain through Sept. 30.
Updated: August 20, 2012 10:51AM
WILMETTE — After four years of working on it, you might think Wilmette tween Nicole Basil would be blasé about Pedal Power, the bicycle donation program she started when she was a third-grade student at McKenzie School. You’d be wrong.
Not only is Basil still enthusiastic about the charity, she’s thrilled at news that a hotel chain will be donating funds to her effort via a unique bicycling program at its four Chicago area boutique hotels.
The partnership is a first, she said. “We’ve worked with sponsors before, but never on this level. I’m incredibly excited.”
Between now and Sept. 30, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants will donate $1 for every mile that hotel guests pedal on special bicycles provided to them through a program that encourages them to bike Chicago’s lakefront trails, parks and beaches.
The San Francisco-based Kimpton chain operates the Allegra, Burnham, Monaco and Palomar hotels in the Chicago area, and was looking for a local charitable effort to link its “Bike this Town” program to, spokeswoman Michelle Banovic said July 11.
After learning about Pedal Power through a Time for Kids web article last fall, “we kind of decided it was perfect for us,” she said. “I really love what she has put together.”
Money raised through Kimpton’s Bike this Town program will buy helmets for Pedal Power to distribute along with the bicycles it collects and distributes to students in several Chicago schools, Basil said.
“We’re hoping we can continue this partnership with Kimpton,” she added.
A lot has changed in Basil’s life since she first asked parents Melissa and Mike Basil if she could collect gently used bicycles and find a way to distribute them to youngsters who might otherwise never have the chance to own one.
She is now almost 13, and preparing for the adventure of seventh grade at Wilmette Junior High School. But she has no intention of letting Pedal Power fall by the wayside, which means that a fifth Pedal Power collection day is probably in the works for this fall.
Basil has taken a steadily larger role in running her charity. Her parents always included her in the organizing efforts (which have collected well over 1,000 bikes) and she braved the national spotlight in early 2011 to talk about Pedal Power on NBC’s nationally broadcast “Nate Berkus” talk show. But now she’s stepped even more.
“My dad includes me in a lot of the planning and he expects me to call a lot of the people we work with, like calling to make sure all the details of things like our rental truck are all correct,” she said.
Administrators at a number of Chicago area schools undoubtedly are glad of Basil’s dedication, since the bicycles collected by her team of volunteers from around the North Shore, and the safety helmets Pedal Power has provided, go to students who have excelled or worked especially hard in school.
Last year, for example, students at Mahalia Jackson Elementary School and at The Chavez School, both on the south side of Chicago, received bicycles from last year’s Pedal Power collection campaign.
The look on students’ faces as they get their bikes is one reason she has kept working on Pedal Power, Basil said at the time.
This latest development with Kimpton only serves to make her more determined to make the annual campaign a success, she said last week.
“It’s more work, but it’s all worth it. I want Pedal Power to go on as long as possible.”
For more information on Pedal Power, visit its web site at www.gopedalpower.com. For information on Kimpton Hotels, visit www.kimptonhotels.com.