MORRIS – Emma Mote returned to her Morris home one Saturday about a month ago to find a large box sitting on her front porch with her name on it.
“There was a box on the porch,” said her mother, Kelly Mote. “My husband said this is a Schwinn bike. We didn’t order it. We started texting Emma’s grandparents to see if they sent something, but they all said they wouldn’t send Emma something without sending something for her brother.”
The mystery continued all day as the family tried to figure out who would send a bike without letting them know.
Kelly said they were bugging Emma about the bike when she brought up that she made a poster at school based on a John F. Kennedy quote about bicycles.
“It said it was from Wisconsin,” Emma said. “Then we saw it said Saris on it. After thinking about it all day, we found out it was from the contest.”
Saris is a bicycle rack company.
Fifth-grade students throughout the United States are invited to enter the annual poster contest, which changes themes each year. This year, the contest was based on the John F. Kennedy quote: “Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.”
Emma, an 11-year-old fifth-grade student at White Oak Elementary School in Morris, said the poster contest was something she took part in as a class project.
“Mrs. DesLauriers mentioned we could do it,” Emma said. “The first day, we spent sketching the poster, and the second day, we colored it.”
Emma thought hard about the quote before she decided to draw a picture of herself riding a bicycle with her dog on a leash heading to a park.
“I’m pretty sure that is how fifth-graders would take their dog to the park if they were riding a bike,” Emma said.
Emma said she already owned a bike, but it was nothing like the new pink and white Schwinn she received. She said the new bike is exactly what she would have picked out if she was given a choice.
“We ride our bikes to the Morris Bakery,” she said. “Most of the time, I go with my mom and my little brother, Alex, but I go with my dad too.”
She said her favorite part of her poster also is the most difficult.
“I like how the bike turned out. It came out how I actually wanted it to,” she said. “The bike and the dog were both difficult.”
When asked what she thought John F. Kennedy meant by the quote, she put some thought into it before answering.
“I think when JFK was president, gas was expensive and gas was limited,” she said. “He meant it was easier to ride a bike and more healthy to ride a bike.”
Emma’s poster was chosen out of about 20 entrants from Illinois before going on to the national competition where she competed online with 23 students from other states.
The contest is sponsored in Illinois by the League of Illinois Bicyclists and the Chicago Area Bicycle Dealers Association.
“The League of Illinois Bicyclists enjoy being a part of the contest,” Gina Kenny, of the league, said. “We want to get kids thinking about bicycling.”
Lily, of Starkville, Mississippi, was announced as the national winner on the Saris website and will go to Washington, D.C., for a bike summit with her parents.
Emma, along with each state winner, was presented with a bicycle, a helmet and a light.