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December 21, 2004 > A 'Biker Bar' in Niles

A 'Biker Bar' in Niles

The Florence Bar & Grill provides a Merry Christmas at the Viola Blythe Center. Over 50 bikes headed to deserving kids.

When Dottie Gomes is inspired, the results can be spectacular! She was motivated by a television highlight of the vision and generosity of Fremont NUMMI employee Ron Little. He had rallied workers to contribute towards the purchase of new bicycles for families served by the Viola Blythe Center in Newark. Dottie decided to follow Ron's example and he promised to help her purchase bikes if and when funds were raised.

Dottie, who works at The Florence Bar & Grill in Niles, told customers - she calls them her "family" - about her plan to buy a few bikes as Christmas presents for deserving kids and was stunned by an avalanche of support. Contributions poured in and a back room of The Florence began to fill with bikes, trikes, boom boxes and more. The Florence, notable as a link to the rough and ready frontier days of the Old West, demonstrated that the hard life of the early settlements in California demanded a tough exterior but often surrounded a heart of gold. During the past month, as the street in front of The Florence was lined with motorcycles, another lineup of shiny, new cycles began to form inside. Dottie and friend Terri Bagley were kept busy collecting the generous donations of customers and funneling the funds to Ron to purchase more and more bicycles.

Initially, Florence owner Rick Kukulica was skeptical; but he is now a believer. After the first 16 bikes (and helmets) were purchased and stored in a back room, offers of help continued. Standing in a room filled with over 60 bicycles, tricycles, boom boxes and more, Dottie says the generosity of The Florence "family" exceeded her wildest expectations; "Never in my life did I think it would get this big!"

On Tuesday morning, December 21, the bicycles will be lined up in front of The Florence ready for delivery to The Viola Blythe Center. Santa Claus will be on hand to help distribute the bicycles later that day when they arrive in Newark.

Asked about future efforts and if they can match this year's success, Dottie is undaunted and already planning for next year!

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