LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Refugees escaping war-torn countries face countless challenges as they try to build a new life in Louisville.
This month's WDRB Hidden Hero Award goes to a local group trying to help refugees with one of the most basic needs: a way to get to work.A bicycle: just two wheels, a seat and a pair of handlebars -- but for Samuel Uli, a bike may as well be a Cadillac."I leave Sudan because of war," Uli said.The Sudanese immigrant watched his family fall apart."My father is dead because of the war."The Suliman family from Somalia escaped similar circumstances."There's been civil war in our country since long time."The Sulimans and Uli came to America hoping to escape the scars of their past, and to start anew. Besides finding a new home, a new job and learning a new language, they also need a way to get around."No matter what country they come from there hasn't been a single one that's not known how to ride a bicycle," said Pedal Power Project founder, Bob Callandar.And so the Pedal Power Project was born. This group of volunteers takes donated bikes, fixes them up and gives them to local refugees. "They were unloved bicycles in people's garages and basements just collecting dust," said Callandar."We're just trying to tune up the bikes we make sure they're in good shape," said volunteer, Mike Ruckriegel. "I just polish them down try to make them look as new as possible," said volunteer, Julie Kottak. Refugees typically come to the U.S. not knowing how to drive a car -- and even fewer have access to one."So they take the bus, or they have volunteers pick them up, which can get a bit tedious. The bicycles really become their only form of transportation that allows them to be employed," said Callandar.Families from Cuba, Ethiopia, Burma and Iraq have all been given bikes. The bike doctors will use the $500 of Hidden Hero money to buy new parts to refurbish more bikes, and most importantly, they'll be able to help more families. "You just doubled the amount of money that we have right here. Thank you," said Callandar.
"Thank you for all that you do," said WDRB's Lindsay Allen.
We're currently looking for next month's Hidden Hero.
Click HERE to send us your submission.
Copyright 2013 by WDRB News. All rights reserved.
624 W. Muhammad Ali BlvdLouisville, KY 40203