OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – Getting your first bicycle is a big event to a child — it’s their first taste of freedom and transportation.
But a local non-profit that provides bikes to at-risk kids has had a bumpy road lately.
For 11 years, Rich Settje has been providing bikes for kids that otherwise would probably not have had one through his non-profit team Bike Rescue of Omaha.
But these bikes really aren’t free. The kids earn them.
“This one here this is for kids that are participating at the Kroc center and learning and educational processes and they worked really hard,” Settje said.
Ironically, Settje never had a bike when he was a kid.
“My parents were really broke. We moved to Omaha from California when I was eight years old and we became homeless,” he said.
So providing these bikes to at-risk kids here at the Kroc Center in south Omaha has a little extra meaning for Settje.
Former Omaha City Councilman Garry Gernandt volunteers with Team Bike Rescue.
He knows what this program means to kids in the community.
“There’s nothing better if you’re having a bad day and you see a kid smile. Well, not lately because of these things but that just warms my heart,” Gernandt said.
But Team Bike Rescue is facing a real problem.
The non-profit is currently homeless with no place to restore bikes.
“His current location out on 72nd Street decided not to renew his lease and it was short notice. It just hasn’t been pleasant for him,” Gernandt said.
Gernandt has already put out feelers about a vacant city-owned property near the Kroc Center.
What a better place right across the street from the community center and surrounded by residential and education.
One by one the kids lined up and found their first set of wheels.
Nearly 30 bikes in all.
Settje says he’s going to continue the program even if he doesn’t currently have a place to work on these bikes.
“I do what’s right. I’m not here to mess people over anything like that. I’m here to try and help the community,” he said.
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