A Surprise Delivery Brings Together Family And Freedom For National Military Appreciation Month

Ariel Parrella-Aureli
May 25, 2019 - 11:48 am

STREAMWOOD (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Kindergarten graduation at Oakhill Elementary ended with an extra special surprise for Zariah Farmby, a smiling young student who wore a black graduation cap with a golden tassel and a fluffy white skirt.

Farmby, a military child born in Japan who speaks Spanish and English, does not get to see her father often because he serves in the the U.S. Navy. Currently he is staioned in the Great Lakes and has served in California and Japan in the past. 

The last time she saw her father, Chief Petty Officer Edwin Farmby, was on a Skype phone call, but on May 24, the two were reunited: Edwin Farmby surprised his daughter with a visit and a new bike, donated and from the Elgin High School soccer team — just in time for Memorial Day.

Edwin came rolling into the classroom on Zariah’s new pink and white bicycle, to which the room full of parents, teachers and teenagers from the Elgin soccer team clapped and cheered. Zariah, too shy and excited for words, hugged her poppa and then said thank you in Spanish to the soccer players who made the surprise delivery.

“I got a new bike,” Zariah said in a smiling, singing tone after photos were taken of her on her bike with the team, Edwin and even her graduated classmates.

Zariah Farmby enjoyed the attention and her new bike, gifted to her by high school athletes who donated money to build the bicycle. (Joe Trost)

Back in April, nearly 3,000 student athletes from the city and suburbs donated $1 apiece to purchase 100 children's bikes and built them to surprise military children. The organizers are Buddy's HELPERS and the PepsiCo Showdown, the largest high school sports series in the U.S. The nonprofit unites high school student athletes in an annual community service campaign built around "Making A Difference On AND Off The Field" to cultivate leadership for a stronger future.

The gift is a symbol for freedom through sports advocacy and engagement, said Joe Trost, the executive director of Pepsico Showdown.

“The biggest thing is not only scoring goals on the field but scoring goals off the field,” Trost said.

May is Military Appreciation Month and National Bike Month, a perfect combination to give back to young children in the Chicago area communities, he said.

The bike campaign is also in honor of April’s Month of the Military Child, which recognizes the sacrifices a child makes in military families. For the remainder of the month, 100 kindergarten through third grade students at random elementary schools in the Chicagoland area are being surprised with new bikes, Trost said.