BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Simply put, the world needs more young people like Mikel Albagdadi ... period.
Mikel is a senior finance major at LSU. He will graduate in May.
Several years ago, his desire to give back to the community took him to Highland Elementary, where he became a "reading buddy" to help the students learn to read. Mikel said he got great pleasure out of the volunteering and felt he was making a positive impact on student's lives, a fact teachers at Highland Elementary verified.
But being his senior year at LSU, his academic schedule was such that he did not have time to volunteer as a "reading buddy" this year. However, Mikel still wanted to give back in some way. So, after discussions with teachers, students and friends, Mikel decided to give each child at Highland Elementary a bicycle!
Now, we're talking upwards of 300 bikes!
"I remember just how much fun I had growing up on my bike," Mikel said while smiling. "So, I wanted to make sure these kids were offered something similar as they grew up."
A college student cannot afford to purchase 300 new bikes. So, Mikel began collecting used bikes with the intention to fix them up, paint them and donate those bikes to the school.
"So, I reached out to Justin Robicheaux, the principal of Highland Elementary, and he was very receptive to the idea. Justin began passing the word; one thing led to another and bike donations began coming in. Then, I get a call from Dustin, who owns Front Yard Bikes. He told me if I collect used bikes, he'd team with me to fix them up, paint them and we could donate them to the school together," Mikel explained.
So, Mikel has been collecting bikes for about two months now. He keeps them at his house and once a week, with the help of a friend who has a truck, he takes the bikes to Dustin's shop to begin the refurbishing process. Mikel's goal is to collect and refurbish the bikes this summer and deliver them to Highland Elementary before the start of school in August.
What a nice surprise for the students when they return from summer break.
So, I met up with Mikel at his home and surprised him with our Hand It On recognition.
"Oh, thank you so much. We really appreciate this. I'm sure every kid will be really happy that you are part. I'm speechless, honestly. This means the world to not only me but to all the kids that are going to be receiving bikes. So, thank you so much. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!" a stunned Mikel exclaimed, a huge smile taking over his face.
And let's not forget his "partner in crime," Dustin LaFont, at Front Yard Bikes. Yes, the world definitely needs more young people like Mikel and Dustin.
To nominate someone for Hand It On, send an e-mail to HandItOn@wafb.com. Make sure to include your phone number.
A GoFundMe page has been created to help Mikel reach his goal. CLICK HERE to learn more.
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