Teen felons giving Christmas cheer and steering others to the right path
"At the end it isn't worth it. It isn't worth it to throw away your life."
This is just one of many inspiring messages of hope from young felons hoping to steer foster kids away from prison life.
Juveniles, convicted as adults and housed at the Correctional Reception Center in Orient assembled hundreds of bikes and wrote personal letters for each foster child receiving a bike.
Randy Jackson said his life spiraled out of controlled when he was just 15 years old.
“Breaking into houses, smoking, drinking, doing stuff that I know I shouldn’t have been doing,” said Jackson, a convicted juvenile serving a four-year prison sentence.
He thought he was untouchable until he got arrested and charged as an adult for assaulting a Cincinnati officer and rioting.
"This is my third holiday and my third birthday locked up and it's tiresome, for real,” Jackson said as he became emotional.
He is now 18 years old and turning his life around, one bike at a time.
"This program is helping me to teach others, just to give back and it feels good to give back,” said Jackson.
That program is called “Ride Out” and it is organized by a charity group known as “Bike Lady.”
“This year we will work with eight prisons hopefully assembling 1,700 bikes that will go to kids in foster care in 43 Ohio counties, in time for Christmas," said group founder Kate Koch.
The goal is to give a new pair of wheels to at-risk foster kids and have their peers inspire them to stay on the right path. Each brand new bike has a personal message from this group of juveniles. Jackson read his letter to us.
“Never lose hope. It can be worse than you think. Trust me when I say that. This is for adults who are suffering emotionally and physically inside and outside of prison. I want them to know to never give up. Sincerely R.J."
Even though he’s not scheduled to get out of prison until June 2019, he’s holding on to his own advice.
"It's going to get better. That's what keeps me moving in prison,” he said.
It costs about $70 to buy a new bike, a helmet and a lock for every foster child. If you want to learn more about how you can help you can check out The Bike Lady's website here.