Chicago Entrepreneur Vivian Valtas Schmidt Donates 15 Bikes to Area Children

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Author of Stiletto 911:The Makeover Manifesto of a Career Woman carries on mentor’s tradition

Vivian Valtas Schmidt and students of Mark Twain Elementary School Chicago, IL

I decided to write this paper for my brother because I love him and he takes very good care of me.

While children around the world were writing letters to Santa, expressing their Christmas wishes, a group of Chicago schoolchildren sent a special plea to Vivian Valtas Schmidt, entrepreneur and author of Stiletto 911.

For the second year in a row, Valtas Schmidt sponsored the “12 Days of Christmas Bicycle Essay Contest”. She sent a letter to Chicago Public Schools administrators, letting them know that she wanted to donate 12 bikes to students in need. She asked that teachers share her offer with the youngsters and asked that they write an essay explaining why they wanted a bike.

Shortly before Christmas, she made this dream come true for 15—not just 12—Chicago children.

“There were so many heartfelt letters that I couldn’t limit the bikes to 12,” explains Valtas Schmidt, owner of the Vivian Valtas State Farm Agency in Chicago and author of the recently published self-help/novel,“Stiletto 911: The Makeover Manifesto”. She is also active with the Valentine Boys and Girls Club in Chicago.

One 8 year-old wrote on behalf of his 15 year-old brother. The teen’s bike had been stolen, so the boy wrote, “he really wants one for Christmas so I decided to write this paper for my brother because I love him and he takes very good care of me. My brother is the kindest brother in the whole wide world.”

As the daughter of a Greek immigrant, Valtas Schmidt knows what life is like when money is scarce. She and her sisters lived on second-hand clothes, and Valtas Schmidt started making extra money from the time she turned seven, selling pumpkins at Halloween and helping her father with his snowplowing business at night. They never owned a new bike until the owner of the local bike shop showed up at their home one day and gave them one from an anonymous donor. He explained that the man paid for the shop owner to choose a deserving family each month to receive the bike.

Twenty years later, Valtas Schmidt tracked down her benefactor and the two became friends. He mentored her as she started her first insurance agency—and beyond. When he passed away, Valtas Schmidt decided to honor his memory by continuing his generosity. She started the “Old Bikeman Award”, and last year expanded her giving with the “12 Days of Christmas Bicycle Essay Contest”.

For more information on the bike giveaways, contact Vivian Valtas Schmidt at (312) 835-1908.

About Vivian Valtas Schmidt

Vivian Valtas Schmidt is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and author. Never one to wallow in her self-pity, Valtas Schmidt applied her experiences to strengthen her leadership and management skills, which she uses to train, motivate, and mentor up-and-coming professionals. She serves on the board of directors of the Valentine Boys and Girls Club in Chicago, and started the “Old Bikeman Award,” which gives new bicycles to children in need each year. Valtas Schmidt graduated from Youngstown University with a degree in mathematics education, and has her master’s from the Fisher College of Business at the Ohio State University She lives with her husband and son in Chicago.


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