Everybody remembers their first bike.
Friday at the Methodist Training Center, 200 area children got their first bicycle with a bonus: They were able to meet and mingle with the Houston Texans.
Following the team's morning practice, all of the Texans' players and coaches filed through a crowd of 200 kids from various charitable organizations including the Houston Texans YMCA, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Houston, Julia C. Hester House, Blackshear Elementary, ProVision and Peck Elementary. It was a memorable experience for the Texans and the youngsters.
"It's the best feeling," quarterback Matt Schaub said. "As players and as a team, with the community support that we get, to do a little bit to give back to the kids, it's just awesome to see the smiles on their faces when they see their bikes."
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak spearheaded the effort, which he started when he joined the team in 2006. Every player and coach contributes personally to the effort, and in addition to the bicycle, each child also gets a helmet.
"It's really cool," Kubiak said. "Heck, you remember when you got your first bike when you were young. It's great because they get to see their heroes, too. You see the kids out there grabbing onto the players, so I think it's a nice little break away from football and the pressures of what we do."
Defensive end Antonio Smith talked with several of the children, some of whom made him a 'Thank you' sign. Smith has been with the team since signing in the 2009 offseason and has enjoyed seeing the giveaway grow.
"It's gotten bigger and better every year," Smith said. "Since I've been here, I think it's grown by like 50 bikes a year. The kids are loving it, and the more bikes you can give out to the kids, the better."
Transporting the bikes from Academy Sports Outdoors to the stadium was an involved endeavor, complimentary of Jetco Transportation. Each bike was wrapped in cellophane, carefully loaded into an 18-wheeler truck and trailer and then unloaded in the parking lot off Kirby.
"This is what it's all about," Jetco president Brian Fielkow said. "Watching these kids and the smiles on their faces, and being able to participate with the Texans in this great community event, and making Christmas special for so many of these kids, we couldn't be happier."