When the Colts reported to training camp at Grand Park in Westfield, many of the players and coaches used bicycles courtesy of Meijer to get around the 400-acre campus.
In honor of Bike to Camp Day, as the players walked off the field after their last practice on Saturday, they handed off those gently used bikes to kids from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s OK (Our Kids) Program.
“Chance, do I get to ride on your handlebars?” asked quarterback Jacoby Brissett, after handing him his bicycle.
For Johnte, a senior tight end from Warren Central, meeting safety T.J. Green was a huge surprise. And getting a bike from him was an even bigger surprise.
“He said, ‘Here you go.’ I said, ‘Thanks.’ He asked what I did, I play football for Warren Central. He asked what position I played and he asked our record, we’re 1-0 right now and number one in the state.”
Kameron will never forget who walked up and handed him a bike.
“Reggie Wayne,” he said.
Or how he felt about it afterwards.
“Totally awesome sauce.”
Officers Tronoy Harris and Antwon Keyes are program coordinators. Both have been with IMPD for 11 years. And both have been in the kids’ shoes.
“We both grew up in similar situations,” said Keyes. “I grew up not having a father in the home with me. My mother was a drug dealer and my father was a drug addict. We were robbed at gunpoint when I was six years old and that’s when I decided to become a police officer.”
A national mentoring program for African-American males from age 12-18, the goal of the OK Program is to lower incarceration and homicide rates in African-American males.
“We meet with the boys on a regular basis in and out of their schools, on visits, tracking their grades, take them on outings if they reach certain goals we have for them,” said Harris. “It bridges the gap between law enforcement and community and it also pushes the kids.”
It also changes their mindset.
“Not only to change their image of police officers, but to change their hope for the future,” Keyes said. “If you can change their hope for the future, then you can take away some of that despair and that’s what leads to misbehavior or not caring and violent tendencies.”
For the kids, seeing people who were able to take negativity and turn it into positivity is powerful.
“I think that’s the best thing that the boys appreciate is that myself and Officer Harris, we can relate to some of the things they’re going through in their own lives,” said Keyes. “I used to be them. I’m a product of my environment and I allowed my environment to shape me in a positive way instead of a negative way.”
And the Colts want to help them continue to do that.
“To come out here and give bikes to kids, it’s a great thing for the community, to leave something positive for these kids,” said Green.
While training in Westfield, the Colts players worked hard to shape their future, make memories for fans, and leave a legacy with young people.
It's a foundation they’ll continue to build on throughout the season and for years to come.