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Local Hero: A Bike Racer Uses Motorcycles to Help Women Facing a Not-So-Easy Ride
Wielding a pair of pliers, 14-year-old Shawnda (not her real name) carefully reconnects six wires to the headlight of a black 2002 Harley-Davidson. The bike's light—not to mention its fender, seat, and saddlebags—has been badly mangled in an accident. But when Shawnda pushes a button on the handlebars, a bright beam appears. Now Shawnda, too, is beaming.
Along with the 12 other girls gathered around the bike, Shawnda is a resident of the Abbott House, a treatment facility for troubled teenagers in South Dakota. She's never ridden a motorcycle, let alone fixed one. But Laura Klock—co-owner, with her husband, of a local bike shop—believes they can teach her confidence and help her "discover things about herself she didn't know were there."
As a teenager, Klock found refuge from her parents' divorce in a Suzuki bike."My motorcycle was always something I could control, even when everything else was out of my control," she says. Her bike later helped her weather a struggle with addiction. She passed on her passion to her daughters, now 18 and 21—who, like their mother, have set records in races at Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats. "I used motorcycles to teach them things I couldn't have otherwise," says Klock. "To challenge themselves, to work as a team."
Klock's daughters—and her own troubled history—inspired her to start the Bike Rebuild Program. "If kids can learn to repair a damaged motorcycle," says Klock, "maybe they can also repair their lives."
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