Students pedal, firefighters help

A gang of bikers stormed the streets May 7 — Anna Maria Elementary student bikers led by West Manatee Fire Rescue firefighters and HBPD-AME school resource Officer Brian Copeman.

The bike ride to AME was a safety campaign led by the WMFR and All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg to bring awareness to Bike Safety Week.

Copeman, who led the ride, said some 50 students participated, and many more parents and family members were along for the ride.

AME principal Dave Marshall took the ride.

Copeman said the ride hasn’t been done in a few years because of a low turnout for the event.

“I think we’ve had such a good turnout this year, we’ll probably do it again next year,” he said.

WMFR conducted bike safety classes at the school May 5-6.

The day of the ride, WMFR firefighters outfitted students with safety vests, reflective backpacks and other gear. Some students with poorly fitting helmets were outfitted with new ones. Fliers about bike safety also were provided to participants.

According to Justin Kwiatkowski of All Children’s Hospital, a grant from the Florida Department of Transportation helped fund the program.

Kwiatkowski was assisted by his brother, firefighter Rodney Kwiatkowski, the newly named safety inspector for WMFR.

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