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Fifteen youth to receive refurbished bikes; hope is to keep program going

Local law enforcement and State Patrol officers are bringing Free Bikes 4Kidz to Park Rapids.

State Patrol officer, Darcy Gagnon took the lead in getting the refurbished bikes delivered from Minneapolis to Terry Eilers at the Park Rapids Police Department for 15 local youth. She is hopeful that local bikes will be donated for distribution in future years and the program can become locally self-sustaining.

Gagnon turned to Kinship director, Jennifer Therkilsen, for help in identifying kids who would receive the bikes.

Kinship kids, from left, Micheal Craig, Shania Jackson, Paige Thelen and Abby Andreoff sport their new helmets and bike locks fr

“We got the word out through our family newsletter to Kinship families and asked them to alert their friends and neighbors,” Therkilsen said. “I also worked with Lake Country Associates and other organizations that serve youth to help identify kids who could benefit from a bike and whose families wouldn’t be able to provide a new one.”

It was not only bikes the lucky kids received. Itascatur Outdoor Activity Club and Northern Cycle partnered to make a difference for their bike ownership.

“We felt it important that these new bike owners be equipped with the safety of helmets and the security of locks for their new bikes,” said Renee Brauer, Itascatur Club member and coordinator of the program. “We are pleased that Todd Williams from Northern Cycle was excited about the project and willing to provide discounts to us for the purchase of the helmets and locks.”

“New bike owners need to understand the safety helmets provide,” Williams said. “And to make sure they secure their bikes properly when not in use. We were pleased to lend our support to this program.”

A number of the bike recipients are Kinship of Park Rapids kids, who otherwise might not have had the opportunity for bike ownership.

“Knowing that they will be riding safely with protective headgear was important to both Todd and our club,” added Brauer, a long term Kinship mentor.

This program fits perfectly with Itascatur’s mission, she said, which is to promote physically healthy, non-motorized outdoor recreational activity in the Hubbard County area.

“This is a wonderful example of groups in our community working together to support our youth,” Therkilsen said. “No one organization can do it all, but when we partner with others, everyone can benefit.”