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Vote for Sue as the National Honoree: November 5 – November 21 on womenofworth.com
San Jose, CA (November 5, 2012) – California resident Sue Runsvold has been honored as a Woman of Worth by L’Oréal Paris for her work with TurningWheels For Kids (TWFK), an organization that provides a brand new bike to every low-income, at-risk child that needs or wants one. Sue is one of ten honorees from across the country that will be recognized for her dedication to philanthropy and passion for making a difference in her community.
“The L’Oréal Paris family is incredibly proud to celebrate this year’s inspiring group of honorees,” said L’Oréal Paris President, Karen Fondu. “These amazing women represent our brand heritage and philosophy, “Because You’re Worth It,” by inspiring us all with their dedication and commitment to making a beautiful difference.”
Each of the incredible honorees has received $10,000 for her charitable cause and will be recognized at an awards ceremony and dinner hosted by L’Oréal Paris and Hearst Magazines on December 6th in New York City. At the event, one National Honoree, chosen via a public online vote, will be announced, and she will receive an additional $25,000 for her charity.
Public online voting for the Women of Worth National Honoree is open from today (November 5th) through November 21st on womenofworth.com. Visitors to the site can vote once per day for their favorite Woman of Worth, and the honoree with the most votes will be named National Honoree.
SUE RUNSVOLD – WOMAN OF WORTH
Raised in a low-income family, Sue dreaded the embarrassment she felt when friends asked how many presents she got for Christmas. Growing up, she vowed that her own children would never know that feeling. In 2002, however, Sue arrived at her daughter’s house for Christmas dinner and was overwhelmed by how many presents were being gifted to her grandchildren. She knew there had to be a middle ground. So, the next year, Sue began taking donations towards bikes for the local fire station toy drive, and, by 2005, her efforts had grown so large that she began TurningWheels For Kids (TWFK) to provide a brand new bike for every low-income, at-risk child that needs or wants one.
Unlike other gifting initiatives, Sue specifically focused on bikes because “everyone remembers getting their first bicycle,” she said. Not only does TWFK provide joy and fun for children who often live with uncertainty, difficulty and even a measure of fear, but TWFK has discovered that there is another side to their program that is equally important – the fight against childhood obesity. With the increase in childhood obesity over the past few decades, providing bikes, the number one requested gift by these kids, draws the children back outdoors and helps to prevent not only serious health consequences, but also self-esteem issues linked to an increase in drugs, alcohol and teen pregnancy.
Having come from a similar background with a father who spent time in prison, Sue won’t allow her bicycles to be branded TWFK because she knows what it feels like to be one of “those” kids – the recipient of a charity item – and she is diligent about keeping the parents involved and making sure they gain the accolades for the bikes.
To date, TurningWheels For Kids has purchased, built and/or distributed over 15,000 new bikes, raised more than $1 million (with 100 percent of funds used on bikes and helmets) and served more than 20,000 happy children.
“I am so honored to be chosen as a L’Oréal Paris Woman of Worth,” said Sue Runsvold, L’Oréal Paris Woman of Worth honoree and founder of TurningWheels For Kids. “This generous award is going to allow TWFK to continue making a positive impact in my community and beyond. It is truly a privilege to be among the company of these ten amazing women.”
Setting the bar for extraordinary philanthropic efforts, this year’s honorees support a wealth of important causes, from healthcare to education and everything in between.
WOMEN OF WORTH PROGRAM
The Women of Worth initiative, now in its seventh year, is inspired by L’Oréal Paris’ iconic brand philosophy, “Because You’re Worth It.” Since its inception, the program has recognized 70 women for their outstanding devotion to their causes, with honorees embodying the spirit of the L’Oréal Paris brand through their commitment to their communities, their selflessness and their drive to make a difference in the world.
For more information about the Women of Worth program, honoree bios and to vote for the 2012 Women of Worth National Honoree, please visit womenofworth.com.
DPR’s San Jose office has proven itself when it comes to completing technically complex projects – think data centers and labs – but on Saturday, August 18, employees focused their skills on simpler technology: bicycles. Fixing a flat tire might seem like a small task compared with ensuring uninterrupted performance in a mission critical facility, but to area children, it’s equally essential.
For the second year in a row, DPR San Jose partnered with San Jose-based TurningWheels for Kids to host a bike repair clinic and hot dog barbecue in its office parking lot. Whereas last year’s event netted approximately 80 repaired bikes, this year’s volunteers were able to get 95 bikes in working order in just four hours. On top of that, 10 used bikes were donated to low-income kids. This is the sixth bike repair clinic that DPR has participated in with the organization.
DPR’s Phil Bartkowski, who sits on the TWFK board of directors along with DPR San Jose Regional Manager Scott Greubel, said the more than 10 DPR volunteers who chose to spend their Saturday working on the bikes were drawn to the idea of having a tangible way of changing kids lives and providing joy. “Many of these kids would never have a chance to get a new bike or have their bikes repaired,” Bartkowski said. “In these cases, the parents don’t have the means or the time to fix a broken bike.”
To ensure the toughest repairs get fixed, a master bike mechanic attends each of the repair clinic events. Bartkowski also has created a primer class for DPR volunteers to learn basic repairs like changing a tire or a tube. Bartkowski added that kids line up around the block early to get help with problems ranging from stolen seats to broken brakes. “In addition to fixing the bikes, volunteers spent time teaching the kids about basic repairs so they can take responsibility and fix their own bikes in the future rather than waiting for the next clinic,” he said.
Founded in 2003, TWFK is a dynamic program that provides new bicycles for underprivileged children in the local community. The goal of TWFK is to entice children back outdoors, away from TV, computers and snacking, and reintroduce outdoor activity and play. Additionally, TWFK strives to provide a bit of joy to children from low-income families, who are all too familiar with the pressures of living in an environment of uncertainty and often chaos. Each year TWFK works diligently to collect funds, purchase and assemble bikes and then distribute them to worthy, established children’s charities for their holiday giving programs.
TurningWheels for Kids is one of 14 youth organizations nationally awarded a total of $590,000 in grants by the DPR Foundation in December 2011. Since December 2008, the DPR Foundation has supported the organization with grants totaling $78,000. Its grant of $40,000 in 2011 was the single largest the organization had ever received. Additionally, DPR served as the title sponsor for last year’s signature event, the Big Bike Build, held annually in December. Last year’s event drew more than 700 volunteers who built 2500 bikes in less than five hours.