On Tuesday, December 12, Rams offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth took a visit to Grape Street Elementary in Watts to lead a school assembly discussing the qualities of good character before surprising all 600 students with their own personal bikes and helmets.
Prior to the Whitworth-led assembly, students participated in written and oral activities in which they described the qualities of good character and why those traits were important to them. Three of the best responses from each class were selected by teachers, and the chosen students were acknowledged during the assembly and were awarded brand new bikes and helmets. But it didn't just end there…
"I'm here today because I believe in every single one of you and I want each and every one of you to be impacted positively," said Whitworth to the Grape Street students. "I want every single one of you to know that you're loved, that you're supported, and that we're behind you. So will you all do one thing for me? Will you take a pledge with me about integrity and character?"
As a loud and enthused student body responded to his special request, Whitworth began to lead the students in a pledge that incited a memorable surprise.
"I pledge to be trustworthy and always have respect," said Whitworth as the students repeated his words in unison. "I pledge to be responsible and always be fair. I pledge to be caring and to practice good citizenship. I pledge to have good character and always act with integrity."
Following the pledge, Whitworth wanted to ensure that the students understood his appreciation for their commitment to exemplify good character and integrity.
"The way I can show you love right now in this moment is to come through for you for taking a pledge with me," said Whitworth. "So I've decided, why don't we just give every one of you a bike? How about that?"
An uproar of cheers proceeded as 600 students sprinted in every direction to claim their early holiday gifts. It was a rare moment of unrestrained chaos that principals and teachers couldn't help but enjoy.
"Each kid was tremendously excited," said Principal Keith Nakano. "Some of them couldn't sit still and they jumped up and ran like it was the first day they woke up on Christmas knowing a present was under the tree. Andrew's generosity really aligns with everything that we're trying to do with our school, building community and character. I always try and tell our kids, 'You get what you give,' and that goes with anything in life. This was another reassuring piece in the journey that we're trying to take our student on here at this school."
Furthermore, not only was Whitworth's bike giveaway during the holidays, but the event also took place on his 36th birthday. On a day when he would normally be receiving gifts from friends and family, all Whitworth wanted to do for his birthday was put smiles on children's faces with his own time and money.
"There's no better way I can think of spending a birthday," said Whitworth. "When I look back and think about my NFL career, these are the moments that I'll always remember and will always be the most touching to me, being out in the community letting the kids know that I'm thankful for all the support I've had over the years. So to personally put your money where your mouth is and what you believe in, I think it provides a good example for the kids. That's what means the most to them, knowing it's real."
To see the footage from Whitworth's Bike Giveaway at Grape Street Elementary School, please visit therams.com/community.
Check out photos as LT Andrew Whitworth surprised all 590 students at Grape Street Elementary with brand new bikes and helmets.