“He asked that people send bicycles to his funeral rather than flowers,” said his sister-in-law, Marcia Vick. “He felt like bicycles would put a smile on a foster child’s face for a lot longer than flowers would do anybody any good.” There were more than 100 bicycles at the funeral, “and they kept coming,” she said.
In Vick’s memory, this year volunteers are putting smiles on the faces of more than 500 foster children. They’re busy this week putting together 502 brand new Huffy bicycles to be distributed in 22 Alabama counties.
After Vick’s death, his friends and relatives started a non-profit group, Phillip’s Bicycles for Foster Kids, to raise money to distribute bicycles in Vick’s memory.
“There are a lot of good people out there, and if they know their money is going to a good cause, they don’t mind giving,” said Vick’s oldest brother, Marion “Tink” Vick.
He remembers his brother as “full of life and loud-spoken. If you were in Wal-Mart and he was in there, you would hear him before you saw him,” he said, chuckling. “Our dad was the same way.”
After this year’s distribution, the group will have given away more than 3,100 bicycles to foster children.
Glenda Bice remembers her brother’s love of riding a bicycle. “He said when you ride a bicycle, the wind in your hair made you feel free, like you can do anything,” she said. “He was a great man, and we miss him so much. But something wonderful has come out of such grief. We’re reaching more children than Phillip could’ve helped in his home.”
Huffy Bicycles offers a bulk discount to the non-profit organization, and Covan World-Wide Moving provides free transportation from Huffy’s distribution point in California to Childersburg Church of God.
“The driver was from Kansas,” Marcia Vick said. “He picked them up last Monday, but he got caught in the snow and ice so he didn’t get here until Saturday night at about 9 o’clock.” At a moment’s notice, some 25 volunteers from the church and community gathered to unload the boxes of bikes.
This week, a small army of volunteers has transformed the church’s family life center into a Santa’s workshop of sorts, assembling more than 250 of the bikes. The rest are being put together at Newsite United Methodist Church, where another of Vick’s brothers, Paul Vick, is the pastor.
Members of the family perform as the Vick Family Gospel Band, and a CD of music by Phillip Vick played in the background as the bicycles were being assembled.
“We raise money all year long, and we have several churches that help us,” Marcia Vick said.
She cited Fayetteville United Methodist, Newsite United Methodist and Plainview Baptist. The effort also receives support from Childersburg Church of God and its pastor, David Bearden, and the church’s ladies ministry.
“The most important part of what we do is when we get together and pray over them,” Tink Vick said.
Each bicycle will be anointed with oil, and prayers will be given over each one: for the child, for his or her foster family, for his or her birth family, and “for God to send somebody to that child to tell them about Jesus. … To let them know that somebody loves you, and that somebody is Jesus.”
Contact Bill Kimber at email@example.com.