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State Honoree

Clayton Lillard

Texas

Clayton Lillard, 14, of San Antonio, Texas, an eighth-grader at William P. Hobby Middle School, has collected and refurbished hundreds of used bicycles and donated them as Christmas gifts to children who have a parent in prison. While walking one day with his mother, Clayton noticed two bicycles in someone’s trash. “My mom said it would be really great to fix up those bikes and give them to kids who would really like to have one,” said Clayton. He thought in particular about children of prison inmates. “I knew that those kids hardly got anything for Christmas,” he said. “I wanted to put some sunshine in their lives.” Clayton persuaded a local radio station to announce that he was looking for used bicycles, and soon other news media began reporting on his project. He initially received so many donations he had to turn some away, but ended up refurbishing 100 bikes the first year. He repaired and donated 300 more during the following two years. The kids who receive the bicycles, which are distributed through the Angel Tree Prison Ministry, think they’re from their parents in prison, said Clayton. “You can’t imagine the excitement when they find this out!” he said.