La Crosse man helping those less fortunate two wheels at a time
One in six people in La Crosse County is living in poverty
LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — One in six people in La Crosse County is living in poverty according to the Institute of Research on Poverty at University of Wisconsin.
Luke Zellmer is trying to help those people.
Zellmer moved to La Crosse just a few years ago to attend University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and he said right away he noticed a large number of people living in poverty in his community and wanted to help.
Now he is pedaling off on his own endeavor, hoping to help those in need by giving them a bike.
In between volunteering at multiple organizations, working at an assisted living facility and studying for the Medical College Admission Test, (MCAT) Lucas Zellmer fixes bicycles in his garage.
“To try save some money, I usually try to reuse the pedals,” Zellmer said.
When the bikes are complete, he gives them away to people who can’t afford one on their own.
“What was made blatantly obvious to me was the need for transportation among the homeless and impoverished populations,” he said. “Sometimes jobs aren’t always the toughest things to get, it’s more so getting to the jobs, so I kind of feel like this fills that void.”
Zellmer calls his program Wheels For All and said the idea just came to him one night while studying. He said he has always had a passion for biking and a passion for helping others, and this is a perfect combination of both.
“I love giving back, I love the feeling of knowing you’re helping someone in a positive way, so that’s why I do it,” Zellmer said.
Wheels for All is still in its training wheels phase, it just started in April, and has received so much support more than 20 bikes have been donated to him and his program.
So far he’s polished up and given away five bikes.
One of the first recipients is Felipe Miianda.
“Well I don’t have a vehicle so the bike is, there are places you can go with a bike that you cannot go with a car,” Miianda said. “What Luc’s doing, it’s awesome.”
Zellmer said each bike is different in the amount of work and parts it may need, but he said he can usually have one working in about a week.
He said it can be tough to find time to work on the bikes with everything else he has going on in his life, but all that hard work pays off when he sees someone pedaling away on one of his bikes.
“I think that’s kind of my motivation of doing this whole thing, their look or their, how they feel after receiving it. You can tell it’s something they’re appreciative of and they’ll use,” Zellmer said.
Zellmer said he doesn’t know where he sees Wheels For All in the future. He is hoping to go to med school after he graduates, but he said as long as he is in La Crosse he will be fixing up bikes for people.
If you would like to help, Zellmer is looking for donations to buy parts for the bikes, Wheels For All has a GoFundMe page setup.