Five kids at the Pitino Shelter were all smiles Monday afternoon (7/7/17) as they tore open brand new Strider bike boxes and immediately tried them out, racing up and down the sidewalks.

The new Strider bikes were special edition Nicky Hayden “Kentucky Kid #69” balance bicycles designed to help toddlers learn to ride with no training wheels.

Several years ago, Nicky personally delivered a load of Strider bikes for the children at the shelter himself. So Monday, members of the Hayden family brought more bikes to the Pitino Shelter to “carry on the tradition” after Nicky’s passing, according to Pitino Shelter Director, Thad Gunderson.

“This is something Nicky did, so we’re trying to continue it,” said Rose Hayden, Nicky’s mother. She says she never asked why Nicky felt motivated to donate bikes to kids at the shelter. “I was just proud of him that he did it on his own.” But she guessed it had something to do with Father (Ed) Bradley, a close friend of the Hayden family and founder of Pitino Shelter.

The idea for Monday’s delivery came about recently when Rose, who handles merchandise for the Hayden Brothers General Store (the official online store for Hayden racing merchandise), noticed the Strider bikes had sold out and they needed to place¬†another order. Nicky’s younger sister, Kathleen McFadden, who serves on the Pitino Shelter board, “brought up the idea that we should bring some more down here (to the Pitino Shelter),” Rose said.

Ready, set… GO!

“I love kids,” she continued, as the little tykes on the bikes zoomed up and down the back sidewalk of the shelter. “It makes me happy to see them so happy.”

Gunderson says the Hayden family also recently cleared and donated a corner lot across the street from the Pitino Shelter which will be used to build transitional housing for shelter residents, but that project was in motion before Nicky passed. Plans for the property call for a complex with 2 bed/1 bath apartments using community redevelopment grants and other resources. “Residents (from the Pitino Shelter) can move right in, just like our other transitional houses, but we’ll lean toward those with disabilities.”

The lot is leveled and ready for groundbreaking, but the board is working with the Neblett Center to secure an adjacent small tract of land that belongs to the Neblett Center. “There are so many good community partners in Owensboro,” Gunderson said, referring to other shelters and community organizations. “We’re all on the same team and we all work together. I’m so thankful for all those groups.”