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Olathe Lowrider Club gaining national reputation

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Posted at 9:45 PM, Jun 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-16 14:06:53-04

OLATHE, Kansas — For high school students in Olathe, the Lowride Bike Club continues to change lives.

It’s a program we’ve told you about before, but it’s had so much success that other cities across the country are looking at Olathe.

For the club, success comes in many forms, including student-built lowriders, trophies and plaques.

“It’s about the mentoring, the bike is the anchor to bring the kids in,” Erik Erazo, executive director of diversity and engagement for the Olathe School District, said.

The Lowrider Bike Club gives nearly 100 students an opportunity each school year.

“A lot of times you tell kids don’t do something, but you have to give them something to do right," Erazo said.

It's an opportunity for at-risk students to belong, and accomplish life goals with a mentor, while refurbishing a bike.

“So far, it’s working out for us as we’ve had a 100% graduation rate, students going to college, becoming police officers and joining the military," Erazo said.

Erazo has seen the program work countless times.

One example is Ozzy Polanco.

Not only did he place first for his custom-built bike for graphics, but outside of the club, he puts the work in too.

“I got a full-ride scholarship,” Polanco, who just graduated from high school, said. “It just shows you’re capable to do something I had no clue.”

That student success getting noticed nationally.

“To go from where then we couldn’t even buy a set of pedals, to now people all over the country trying to replicate the program,” Erazo said.

Replication started in Albuquerque, New Mexico, just last week.

“When you meet these kids, and you say 'Man, I can see that it actually works and I want our kids to be like these kids.'"

Various cities in New Mexico, Arizona, Kansas City, Kansas, and National City in California all plan to replicate Erazo’s club.

“For me to be there to tell all those people that it truly takes one person to make people feel better,” Polanco said.

“I think the success of the program is that success can look like them,” Erazo said.