Early Christmas in Boyle Heights as Eagle Scout donates bikes to homeless youth

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Here’s a spirit of Christmas story for you:

This morning, a 17-year old cycling champion from the west side went to Boyle Heights and donated $20,000 worth of electric bicycles to people who don’t have much: at-risk youth who were homeless, or who aged out of the foster care system.

17 year old Diego Binatena, Boy Scout Troop 927, presents electric bikes to less fortunate youth in Boyle Heights
17 year old Diego Binatena, Boy Scout Troop 927, presents electric bikes to less fortunate youth in Boyle Heights

In addition to being on the national cycling team, Diego Binatena of Playa del Rey is a Boy Scout, from Troop 927 in Westchester. In order to earn the rank of Eagle Scout–the black belt of scouting–he needed to plot and pull off a community service project, so he asked around the cycling community.

“The LA Bike coalition had these bikes donated to them and they were just waiting for someone to come along and use them, and I said, hey I want to do a project and they said alright. I wanted to make sure the bikes landed in the right hands,” Binatena said.

He did some research, and found out about Jovenes, Inc., a residential facility for young adults who are homeless, or who’ve aged out of foster care.  (The other recipient of bicycles Diego found is PATH La Kretz Villas in East Hollywood.)

Finding where to donate the 20 electric bikes was just the start. Over the last few months, he managed to raise thousands of dollars in donations to trick out each of the bikes with safety equipment, locks, and bags.

“I used the connections I made from cycling to get the bikes, and I used the ethics and mental aspect from scouts to complete my project,” Binatena said. “That’s why this project means a lot to me, because I’m making a difference in my local community through bikes. Just to know somebody out there is out there riding a bike, using a bike to change a life means everything to me.”

Now Diego can get back to working on his other goal: getting into the Olympics.