Since 2009, filmmaker and social entrepreneur Dan Austin has worked to bring joy to children around the world. His organization, 88Bikes, delivers bicycles to kids in areas that have been hit with hard times. There’s no doubt that there are more pressing needs to be fulfilled in such places, where war, poverty, disease and other hardships make daily life a constant struggle. But the question arises, is life really worth living without joy?
I know from personal experience how a bicycle can raise a child’s spirits after disaster. When my own father died in 1983, my world was shattered. I slipped into despair and wished that I were dead, too. That is, until a brand new BMX bike snapped me out of my depression. To an eight year old, a new bike is like winning the lottery, and my first “nice” bike made life worth living again.
I certainly wish things were that simple in the adult world, but there are millions of kids out there who could use a little bit of joy in their life. Like Edith, for example, who received bike #801, paid for by yours truly.
I would have been happy to know that my $88 donation went to a kid anywhere in the world, but I’m especially proud to know that the bike I purchased went to a kid right here in the United States. Edith, you see, is a member of the Navajo Nation, living in the far southeastern corner of Utah. You don’t need to be a history scholar to know that the Navajo people have suffered tremendously, but that’s another subject entirely. What’s important here is that Edith, who wants to be a doctor when she grows up, has a brand new Kona to ride. And I hope it puts a huge smile on her face every time she does.
Photo courtesy of 88Bikes.org