NASA engineer repairs bikes – and young lives

An astrophysicist at NASA uses his engineering skills to help children in his neighborhood with free bike repairs.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly greets Trent Griffin, who received an award for volunteer work, via a video from the International Space Station in this screenshot from a NASA release.

Trent Griffin was concerned last summer when he saw a child riding a bike that was missing a front tire in his neighborhood in Huntsville, Ala.

He bought supplies to make the fix and offered the boy a newly repaired bike. Soon, Mr. Griffin was visited by many young bike riders. He may have been surprised that word had gotten out so quickly, but he was happy to help, reports ABC News. 

Griffin went to thrift stores to get materials to repair the bikes. He even gave bikes away to children in need, WAAY-TV reported. When a child received a freshly fixed bike, he or she also received a life lesson.

"It's not just about the bikes," his sister, Nicole Griffin Fields, told ABC News. "He makes them sign contracts that require them to have good behavior, to maintain their good grades, and to obey their parents."

Taniya Hardin said she liked the color of the bike Griffin had given her. "I'm 9 years old and Mr. Trent gave me a bike," she told ABC News. "I feel happy because he gave me a bike that I love."

Is a little life counseling from a NASA engineer a good price to pay for having a freshly repaired bike? At least 1,000 people and a NASA astronaut said it was.

Griffin's friends and family nominated him for the "Above and Beyond" award from "Good Morning America." His prize was a field full of 50 relatives and 1,000 grateful participants at the US Space and Rocket station near the Marshall Space Flight Center where Griffin works, according to WAAY-TV.

Griffin also met an astronaut at the International Space Station, Scott Kelly, via a NASA video chat. Commander Kelly told Griffin he would receive 50 bicycles from Schwinn and Mongoose that he can give to more children in his neighborhood. Kelly finished the video chat with a low-gravity flip. 

Griffin's father was a preacher, and he and his five siblings were taught to help others, said NASA officials. 

America has a rich tradition of active community involvement, and people like Griffin share that with children by example. Millennials, a generation known for being uninvolved, shows no signs of breaking the trend.

Americans under the age of 30 are actually more likely than their parents to believe in the need to help their community, according to The Associated Press. From that demographic, 20 percent volunteered during 2013, and the trend is likely to go up because most Americans become more involved in volunteering in their 30s and 40s, after they become parents. 

"He spends as much time volunteering as he does working," Griffin's sister told ABC News. 

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