When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Downtown Springfield Business owner Christopher Bettis wanted to do something for the community he cares about so deeply.

Bettis, the owner of Fluent Mortgage (12th and Main streets), reached out to City of Springfield Economic Development staff in April 2020 wanting to do some good for the community. He had the idea of donating bikes to children since schools had closed and many outside activities canceled.

Bettis began working with Springfield Public Schools Safe Routes to Schools Coordinator Laughton Elliott-DeAngelis to help get bikes, scooters, and helmets to local kids.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to support Springfield students with active transportation equipment,” said Elliott-DeAngelis. “We know that the 65 students who we are able to support will stay active and healthy this summer. We are hopeful too, that when students return to school in the future, many more will be arriving through active transportation.”

Elliot-DeAngelis said he knew they could make great things happen together when Bettis reached out with an idea to get more kids on bikes and began reaching out to local businesses to make it happen.

“There is currently a national shortage on active transportation equipment, so we are really psyched that he was able to pull together so many wheeled machines,” Elliot-DeAngelis said.

Bettis was able to purchase bikes, scooters, and even a few skateboards. Working with Elliot-DeAngelis, he was able to get them distributed quickly and pair each with a helmet.

Bettis credits the collaboration with the City and Springfield Public Schools Safe Routes to Schools for helping turn his idea into a reality. Bettis is particularly a fan of Safe Routes to Schools and the work Elliot-DeAngelis does.

“He’s given our youth freedom, a fun active hobby, transportation, and skills,” Bettis said of Elliot-DeAngelis. “Who knows, because of Safe Routes to Schools, he could inspire the next mechanical engineer that could change the world.”