Paying it Forward: 'Bike Fairy' brings smiles to faces of foster kids

Some people believe in angels on earth, but Kathy Downs is a fairy -- a "bike fairy" that is.

It all began when she was looking for a bike donation for a foster child with whom she was spending time.

"I had a case with a 9-year-old girl and I wanted to get a bike for her.  Because I'm a cyclist and I wanted that to be one of our visitation activities," she explained.

Someone donated a used bike which she fixed up and then the bikes kept coming.

"We started hosting events and it's a thing now!" she said.

Over the past 3-and-a-half years, the bike fairy has given away up to 3,000 bikes to foster children in Central Florida. She and her partner, Victor Thacker, repair them and give them to foster kids for free -- along with helmets and locks.

"I'm a believer that God put all of this together because the bikes never stop. I come home and the bikes are on my front porch," Downs said.

Her garage is filled with bikes and she has held multiple bike giveaways. For kids in the foster system -- who are going through what is possibly the worst time in their lives -- a bike brings happiness.

"To them, they are all new bikes. Some of them never had a bike.  Some of them are at a place where they have to share a bike.," she said. "Just seeing the joy on kids' faces, by the hundreds and the thousands, does it get any better than that?"

Chris Martinez is with Embrace Families, which oversees the foster care system in Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties.He knows how difficult life can be for kids -- who have been removed from their homes, families, and friends.

"It is very, very traumatic," he said.

For older children, like Davion, who are aging out of foster care, it can be even more difficult. Davion needed help getting to and from work,  so Martinez reached out to Downs.

"I put something on Next Door and a really wonderful family found a brand new bike for him at Dick's Sporting Goods, bought it, and brought it over for him," Downs explained.

The bike fairy hopes to grant even more wishes but it will take some help from the community.

"I wish there would be some real estate I could get to store a couple of hundred bikes. And the bigger wish is that we wouldn't find kids in this situation," she said.

Embrace Families will be holding a holiday fundraiser for foster children.  More information can be found here.