Allina Health donated the bicycles after a social media post about the lack of bikes in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.
By Salman Yousafzai
SALMAN YOUSAFZAI – STAR TRIBUNE
Alison Pence, director of community relations for Allina Health, gave a bicycle to a kid during Saturday’s distribution event in Minneapolis.
On a steamy summer day perfect for wheeling around the neighborhood, excited kids snapped up bicycles donated by Allina Health on Saturday in Minneapolis’ Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.
Allina and its community partners dispersed 108 bikes at the Brian Coyle Community Center in response to a frustrated social media post by activist Abdirizak Bihi about the lack of bikes for children in his community.
“Girls and boys in my neighborhood always borrow my bike, so I posted about bike donation on my social media, and the response was big — around each and every kid have their own bicycle now,” Bihi said Saturday. He said that after post, several people stepped in to donate bikes, and then Allina Health came forward to donate those given out Saturday.
Allina volunteers distributed the bikes, along with helmet and safety information that included warnings about the danger and symptoms of concussions.
“It is a positive community partnership that brings joy to the youth of the Somali neighborhood,” Bihi said.
Ken New was among those teaching kids who’d never rode a bike how to do so. “We are also teaching them about road rules to avoid any road mishaps,” he said.
Alison Pence, Allina’s director of community relations, said the company has given bikes to children in need for the past five years, and that Bihi’s post was the impetus for this year’s giveaway. Most of the bikes came from Allina’s Free Bikes 4 Kidz program, she said. The donated bikes were cleaned, repaired and refurbished before being distributed with helmets and bike safety information to children.
Muhammad Mahommod, 15, was one of Saturday’s recipients. “I am really happy to have my own bicycle,” he said. “Some of my friends have their own bicycles and I used to borrow them.”
Muhammad Ammar, 16, said the giveaway “made us happy.”
Parents, too, were delighted. “I was not able to buy bikes for the children,” said Fartun Roble, a mother of three. “I am really excited.”