Benjamin '24 repairs, donates bikes to underserved youth

One High School freshman uses his love of mountain biking to give back to the Nashville community.
By Sierra Smith, Communications Specialist 

“Ever since I started cycling, it’s really changed me as a person.”

Freshman Benjamin Kampine joined University School of Nashville’s Mountain Biking Team in 2018 and quickly fell in love.

“The culture is just really incredible. Getting to go out — to be in the woods, to be active — it’s just a really great experience.”

In order to become a better cyclist, Benjamin ‘24 picked up tips on bike repair and maintenance from his coach and teammates; in time, he became one of the team’s go-to student mechanics.

While he’d initially only imagined this skillset as useful for him and his friends, as Benjamin’s bar mitzvah grew closer he searched for a social justice project that would satisfy the tikkun olam concept of the Jewish faith, which commonly translates to “fixing the world.” As Benjamin considered how he might contribute to making the world better, he saw a way that his hobby could help others.

Now Benjamin is in the process of launching a non-profit that refurbishes and repairs donated bikes to be regifted to students at Title I schools in the greater Nashville area. His goal is to make cycling a more accessible pastime.

“Unfortunately, cycling is incredibly expensive. For children in underserved communities, getting a bike is almost definitely not on the table,” Benjamin said. “So putting bikes in kids’ hands is very rewarding for me. Seeing their faces light up and just being able to share something I enjoy so much — the experience of biking — with them is really great.”

In March, Benjamin donated 10 bikes to students at Carter Lawrence Elementary School. So far, he estimates having between 50 to 60 hours into the project, not including the time he spent this summer as an apprentice at Trail & Fitness Bicycles to further hone his mechanical skills. In addition to collecting and repairing more used bikes to donate, Benjamin is also busy building a website for his organization and filing the many forms needed to gain non-profit status at the state and federal levels.

“Anyone who knows Benjamin knows he is a committed, enthusiastic, and dedicated member of our team and the USN community, and he’s also a young man who helps Nashville move forward,” Mountain Biking Team Head Coach Steve Smail said. “Ben understands that bikes have a unique power for all kids: they allow for fun, healthy exercise, independence, transportation, and ultimately self-empowerment. What he’s started is a significant way for Nashville to help build citizens, relationships, and community."
    • Benjamin Kampine '24 and Carter-Lawrence Elementary School Principal Sherletta Sanders prepare to surprise 10 children with bicycles.

    • Benjamin Kampine '24 continues to repair bikes during an apprenticeship; Benjamin will use the skill he's learned to give refurbished bikes to other children.

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