Bicycles given to needy kids
Sadak Isac shuffled quickly out of a classroom, his bare feet scraping the tile floor, to a table stacked with colorful bicycle helmets. The 8-year-old from Somalia had waited long enough for this moment. After being cooped-up for nearly 20 minut...
Sadak Isac shuffled quickly out of a classroom, his bare feet scraping the tile floor, to a table stacked with colorful bicycle helmets.
The 8-year-old from Somalia had waited long enough for this moment.
After being cooped-up for nearly 20 minutes in a room with 23 other children Monday at the CHARISM Youth Center in Fargo, Isac was fitted with a shiny red helmet before he scurried outside to receive his first bicycle.
"I never had a bike in Somalia," said Isac, whose four older brothers also received bicycles and helmets Monday.
The event was facilitated by CHARISM, a nonprofit organization at 612 23rd St. S. that serves the low-income McCormick Park community.
Jim Kiefer of Casselton, N.D., who fixes old bicycles and donates them to local community agencies, donated 35 bicycles for the event.
Helmets were donated by Mike Heikes of Fergus Falls, Minn., who rides throughout the United States and Canada to raise money for helmets he donates to children and communities. Heikes lectured the anxious group of children on the importance of wearing helmets before each was fitted with a helmet and given their own bicycle.
"I hope no kid has to go through what I've gone through and continue to go through," said Heikes, who suffers short-term memory loss after being injured while cycling without a helmet. "My life is frustrating, but interesting."
Twenty-three bicycles were donated Monday to children, many of whom are refugees from Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan and Bosnia living in the Fargo-Moorhead area, said Mark Weiler, youth opportunity program coordinator for CHARISM.
"This event is for low-income families," Weiler said. "It's for families or kids that can't afford bikes. It's to create solidarity throughout the community."
Isac's family was displaced from Somalia two years ago because of civil war. His mother, father, four brothers and two sisters now live in Fargo.
Monday marked another transition in Isac's life. Before, he was the only kid among his friends not to own a bicycle.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Joe Whetham at (701) 241-5557