April 20, 2014

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Browns’ Gary Baxter donates 40 bikes to Lorain students

LORAIN Forty Washington Elementary School students received a special reward from Browns cornerback Gary Baxter: brand-new bicycles.

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BRUCE BISHOP / CHRONICLE
Kindergartner Cindy Juarez talks to Browns cornerback Gary Baxte

Winners of an essay contest about teamwork and physical fitness received a surprise visit from their parents, who presented the students with bikes, bike locks and helmets donated by Baxter as part of the third annual Bicycle Bash in Northeast Ohio, co-sponsored by Baxter and the American Heart Association.

The program is part of Baxter’s mission to encourage young people to exercise and eat better, he said.

“If you’re going to have teamwork, you’ve got to stay in shape and work out,” said Baxter, who hasn’t played since tearing the patellar tendons in both of his knees in 2006.

After speaking to the children about exercise and teamwork and sharing the microphone with Browns safety Mike Adams, who also discussed the benefits of staying healthy, the two athletes counted to three before a curtain behind them tore open, revealing 40 mothers and fathers holding the two-wheeled gifts.

“I got a call while at work this morning that she won and I didn’t hesitate to rush over here,” said 10-year-old Mackenzie Winchell’s father, Benjamin Bill. “I just told her how proud I was of her.”

Mackenzie’s essay discussed how important it is to work with others to accomplish goals and how she plays with friends to stay physically active.

“I was kind of surprised,” she said about seeing her father holding the bright yellow bike. “It’s a really pretty bike.”

Jamal Robinson said he plans on using his bike right away to travel around the neighborhood. He wrote his essay about staying healthy without worrying about the way you look.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re fat or skinny; you just have to be healthy,” he said.

Baxter and Adams told the students that teamwork is the main reason the Browns have a 9-5 record and are in the hunt for a playoff spot. The team would clinch a wild card berth with a win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday or  a Tennessee Titans loss.

“But teamwork happens every day at home, too,” Adams said. “Whether it’s when you’re helping your parents do dishes or helping your class with homework. That’s working together.”

Contact Adam Wright at 329-7151 or awright@chroniclet.com.