As K-Rob mounted his bike and circled the auditorium, a hush fell over the boisterous crowd of elementary students who gathered to see the X Games gold medalist.
Lying together in the center of the Guiteras Elementary School gym floor were three teachers – Vanessa Cronan, Vanessa Estrella and Allison Powers. K-Rob was going to jump over them while riding his bike.
“Ok, are you ready, here we go,” he said, riding to the end of the room.
As he turned around, pedaling at full speed, the bike became airborne – without a ramp – and flew over the three stunned educators, landing successfully on the other side.
The crowd went wild.
“It’s all about trust, and building that trust,” K-Rob told the students afterwards. “It takes a long time to build that trust, but only a second to lose it.”
Kevin Robinson, affectionately known as K-Rob in the BMX arena, spoke to students at Guiteras, Rockwell and Colt Andrews early this week, kicking off a month-long awareness campaign about bullying.
“It’s not OK to bully someone. It’s that simple,” he said, asking the group how many of them liked to be treated mean, or treated nicely.
As a kid, K-Rob told the group he was teased a lot because of his odd ability to do stunts on a bike. Back then, he said, BMX racing wasn’t as “cool as it is now. The X Games didn’t exist.”
The students also heard K-Rob’s message about dreaming their dream, and then living it – something he modeled his life and career after.
Despite one teacher’s comments about students potentially missing class the next day as a result of trying out K-Rob’s stunts, the BMXr was confident that his message stood out more than his talent.
“This is no different than a pro-football player coming and speaking,” he later said. “What do they do? They put on helmets and tackle each other and run each other to the ground. (BMX) is another avenue, another outlet, for kids.
“This is less about stunts and more about the message. I’d say the stunts account for about 10-to-15 percent of the presentation.”
Racing and performing stunts on a bike required K-Rob to mature faster than his counterparts.
“Without a coach, there’s no one there to guide you, show you what you should and shouldn’t do,” he said. “It provided me with the life tools to pick yourself up, and figure out the mechanics yourself.”
At Rockwell, Principal Tara McAuliffe believed K-Rob’s message was well-received.
“The kids enjoyed it,” she said. “And we follow up afterward in the classrooms, where the teacher can approach it in his or her own way.”
Ms. McAuliffe said that the school frequently talks about bullying with its students, largely informally.
“It’s important at any age to let kids know that you need to think about other people’s feelings,” she said. “That sense of empathy begins at home, and it grows from there. Little kids are a bit more ego-centric and as they grow it expands. But we are conscious about their being respectful of other children, students and peers.”