Restoring Hearts With Bike Parts

Tearing down to build back up. For the next 16 weeks at the Omaha Home For Boys, nearly 40 youngsters will go to work completely overhauling a motorcycle. It's called restoring hearts with bike parts.

What does a wrench, Henry Winkler and a motorcycle have in common? Organizers call a ground breaking program aimed at impacting at-risk youth in the metro.

The bike, a 1999 Harley Davidson Heritage Softail, was partially donated by Dillon Brothers Harley Davidson according to the Omaha Home for Boys. For the project, students have already submitted design sheets with mock-up colors and schemes. They also submitted applications as to why they wanted to be a part of the project.

Each Tuesday night from 6:30 to 8:30 inside the garage at OHB, the students will gather.

Forty kids, four of whom will be group leaders, with the help of local motorcycle mechanic Jeremy Colchin will strip the motorcycle down to a bare frame and then build it according to plan. The staff says many of the young people would otherwise never have a chance to be part of something like this.

"The idea is not only to restore the bike, but to restore some of the damage that's happened in their lives and give them a sense of fulfillment in having an opportunity to participate in that," says Omaha Home For Boys Director of Development Tami Soper.

Once the group gets moving on rebuilding, some parts might not be put back on the bike. For instance, the after-market exhaust system. Those leftover parts will be auctioned off at an event. That's where the community can get involved. Starting in May, you can buy raffle tickets to win the final bike. All proceeds benefit the Omaha Home For Boys.

This is part of a national program helping the Horsepower Bike Rebuild Program. Henry Winkler, best known for his role as Fonzie on the television series "Happy Days," will speak at that event September 26th at Hilton Omaha. It's there the bike will be given away, the parts we mentioned raffled off.

"My plan is to actually take it all the way down to a bare frame and completely disassemble and start back up. "Jeremy Colchin with the Black Rose Machine Shop is volunteering to lead the group of young people. They've already submitted colored themes and designs for what the bike could look like. Starting Tuesday night, they'll choose one and start planning.

“The satisfaction these kids will get to see something that is probably more valuable than anything they've ever worked on before, you put your blood, sweat into it and your heart is into it," said Colchin. "Every motorcycle I work on or build a little bit of it is me as this motorcycle will be a little bit of all these kids that have their hands on it."

"It's just kind of showing them that whatever damage exists doesn't have to define your future and that it can be undone," says Soper.

In the end, lives rebuilt with the right tools and inspiration.

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