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SALT LAKE CITY — Seven-year-old Wesley Brooks spent his Friday afternoon walking around the Lied Boys and Girls Club gym to ask every adult in the room if they liked his new bike helmet.
"It's really cool. I like it," he said, staring at the skull and crossbones stickers that covered the helmet. "It makes me look awesome."
Wesley was one of more than 80 elementary school kids at the Lied Boys and Girls Club, 464 Concord St., where each received a new helmet donated by United Heathcare.
"Isn't it pretty? I did it all by myself," Kairi Defa, 6, said proudly as she cradled her helmet stuck with pink and green flowers and hearts.
Ana Silveira, 8, talked about wearing her new helmet when her grandfather takes her on a motorcycle ride.
"I like to go to the park and ride (my bike) there," she added, putting another sticker on her helmet.
In another corner of the gym, Salt Lake City police detective Richard Chipping told stories about bike safety and times when he and his brother rode their bikes off jumps.
"Who here has a bicycle?" he asked a group of third- and fourth-graders. Most kids threw their hands in the air.
"How many of you have helmets?" The hands dropped, then raised again, holding up the new helmets.
"A lot of our kids do ride bicycles," said club director Julie Trujillo. "I think it’s nice to make sure we remind them that they need to be safe and wear helmets and why we wear helmets."
The kids' event was in part to promote the Tour of Utah race beginning next Monday. At the different locations during Tour of Utah, kids ages 5-12 can participate in events.
The multiday race begins in Logan and ends in Salt Lake City. United Healthcare has a team competing in the event.
Three members of the United Healthcare Pro Cycling team — Jonny Clarke, Lachlan Norris and Sebastian Haedo — handed out red boxes of bike helmets Friday as a chorus of "whoas" filled the gym when the kids first scrambled inside and caught sight of the helmets.
"They’re all having fun, so that’s the main part," said Clarke, a pro cyclist from Melbourne, Australia. "Hopefully they take on board some of the safety stuff and nutrition. But I think it’s most important to have fun."
After receiving the helmets, the kids went to three stations: learning exercise stretches with the cyclists, bike safety with Chipping and sticker decorating.
"These kids are great. They got so excited," said Pam Gold, the vice president of sales for United Healthcare. "I don’t think they knew we were giving away helmets until they came in."