TAMPA, Fla. — How do you get behind a charitable cause? Well, you give what you have.

Restaurateur Dan Bavaro? He has meatballs!

  • 2,000 meatballs for Onbike's Winter Wonder Ride after-ride party
  • Winter Wonder Ride this weekend
  • Learn more about Onbikes.org

We are hanging out at the restaurant's owner's latest offering, Sorrelina, which opened just a few days ago at “The Hall on Franklin” in Tampa.

"'Sorrelina' in Italian is little sister,” explained Bavaro.

Hence, the new venue is a 'little sister' to his 'Bavaro’s' restaurants.

We're there to roll out meatballs — 2,000 of them — for Onbikes annual holiday event, the "Winter Wonder Ride."

Getting children on bikes

"Since 2011, we've given away 5,000 bicycles," said Julius Tobin, one of the nonprofit’s organizers.

They just built 800 more at Amalie Arena on Saturday. More than 1,200 volunteers gave their time to the effort.

The bikes are possible, in part, due of proceeds from the Winter Wonder Ride, where thousands of bicyclists take over Bayshore Boulevard dressed in the spirit of the season: as Santas, elves, even gingerbread cookies.

These riders' participation fees help an area child in need with a bike and a helmet.

"You have to help others"

Bavaro says his own five children inspire his participation in this effort.

"Especially around the holidays, you have to help others,” said Bavarro. “We have five businesses in the Tampa Bay area. All these people support our businesses. It would be selfish if we didn't give that back, and especially to children."

So, where do the meatballs come in? The post-ride after party!

"We call it the best 'Wedding Reception Party you can have,' said Tobin.

These meatballs were born for this party.

Dan gives his meatballs, volunteers his time and ponies up his fee for his entire family to ride in the annual event.

All so others can taste of little bit of the bike freedom so many of us experienced as children.