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He’s trying to turn his life around, and a new bicycle is helping him get there quicker

A new pair of wheels has cut hours off a Warner Robins man’s daily commute. Cassius Harris now gets where he needs to be by pedaling his bike, which was donated by a Perry police officer last month.

Arrested previously on DUI charges, Harris is required to report to the Houston County office of the Georgia Department of Community Supervision four or five times a week.

On his drive to work one day, Coordinating Chief Community Supervision Officer Patrick Cole saw Harris walking and discovered the lengths he was going to in order to attend the program.

“I wanted to change my life around, and this is a step where I can at least put forth the effort to make some changes to better my life. It was either get it together, or jail. I’ll do whatever it takes for me to be out of there, so I can take care of my kids,” said Harris, who has an 8-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter.

He was walking three miles one way from his Houston Lake Road apartment to the Carl Vinson Parkway facility. Plus, he was logging a dozen or more additional miles getting to work at Margaritas Mexican Bar & Grill, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and other responsibilities each day. Harris said he didn’t want to risk being late by waiting on a ride, so he chose to walk instead.

In early November, Cole contacted some community partners and asked on Facebook if anyone could help. Perry police Cpl. Jeff Keenom was the first to respond, donating his almost-new mountain bike. Harris received the bicycle a few days later, along with a bike lock and backpack donated by the Houston County Public Defender’s Office.

“A lot of times in this job, we have to make arrests in certain situations, but there are also times we can help those people better themselves when they truly want to,” Keenom said. “Honestly, I didn’t think that much of it when I did this. I just felt compelled to do this.”

Keenom said he wanted to pass on the generosity that the community showed to his family after a house fire recently.

The Department of Community Supervision was able to give a second bike, purchased by LaToya Bell in the Public Defender’s Office, to another participant in need about a week ago, Cole said. Many of the men and women on probation don’t have driver’s licenses, and a bicycle helps them go from place to place without having to get behind wheel of a car, Keenom said.

Cole said he would like to donate bikes to other participants in the future, and perhaps even partner with a bicycle company for maintenance. Once Harris gets his driver’s license and car back, he plans to give his bike to the program so someone else can use it. Harris said he’s saving money and hopes to open an auto detail shop once he finishes the program.

“Our goal with Cassius is the same goal we have with everybody, and that’s to address whatever need they have to the best of our ability and get them to a point where they can be off probation or parole and never have to come back again,” Cole said. “At the end of the day, the people we have on parole and probation are human beings that make mistakes. I think it just comes to show how important it is to offer up a helping hand when one is needed.”

Andrea Honaker: 478-744-4382, @TelegraphAndrea

Want to donate a bike?

Call the Department of Community Supervision at 478-929-6832.

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