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Helping with Horsepower unveils latest 'Star'

Laura Klock, with Klock Werks Kustom Cycles in Mitchell, is reflected in the mirror while showing off the 75th Anniversary Motorcycle for the Abbott House in Mitchell Thursday night at the new Bridges home for Abbott House. The rebuilt Harley Davidson motorcycle with vintage style sidecar includes customized design by the Abbott House girls. (Sean Ryan/Republic)

A motorcycle sat in the middle of a crowd, its new paint sparkling in the evening sun.

Many of the girls in the crowd spent nearly four months helping to transform the motorcycle -- once damaged and missing parts, but now looking brand new -- while also working to transform their lives.

On Thursday, the Abbott House, a residential treatment home for girls, and Klock Werks Kustom Cycles unveiled a 2001 Harley Davidson Road King, repaired and rebuilt by the Abbott House girls as part of the Helping with Horsepower Bike Rebuild Program.

It's the third motorcycle built as part of the Helping with Horsepower program, and this year's motorcycle is meant to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Abbott House's founding in 1939, according to Virginia Wishard Lambert, the Abbott House's development director.

"The bike really was created to symbolize the work that Abbott House has done for 75 years in caring for children and their families," Wishard Lambert said.

Eric Klooz, executive director of the Abbott House, said the girls at the Abbott House, who often have troubled pasts involving abuse or mental illness, enjoy working on the project.

"They take something that's damaged and broken and has defects, and they fix it," he said.

Laura Klock, vice president of Klock Werks Kustom Cycles and co-founder of Helping with Horsepower, said she involved the girls in the entire rebuilding process, even if problems arose.

"I include them in all of that because that's how you learn to overcome obstacles in life," she said.

After the long rebuilding process, Klock said seeing the finished motorcycle is a thrill for the girls.

"It's really a self-esteem and self-confidence builder," she said.

This year's motorcycle, which is named "Star" and is fitted with a vintage sidecar, will be raffled off Nov. 15 at the Sherman Center on Dakota Wesleyan University's campus, as part of the Abbott House's 75th anniversary celebration. That event will feature Billy Mills, a South Dakotan who won an Olympic gold medal in the 10,000-meter run in 1964.

Klooz said tickets for the raffle are being sold at the County Fair Food Store, County Fair Food and Fuel, Graham's Mobil and the I-90 Travel Plaza, all in Mitchell, and at J&L Harley Davidson in Sioux Falls.

The motorcycle was unveiled in front of the Vyas Family Bridges Homes, a transitional home for girls who have completed treatment at the Abbott House's main facility but have nowhere else to go. The Abbott House finished work on the home in October. It's located at 1808 N. Minnesota Ave., near the state Highway 37 bypass, and has room for six residents, girls between the ages of 12 and 18, as well as two girls ages 18 to 21 who live in two separate, one-person apartments on the property.

Next door, at 1810 N. Minnesota Ave., the Abbott House is still working to build another Bridges home, and announced Thursday it received a $100,000 matching grant from the Larson Family Foundation, of Brookings, to help support the project. A total of $20,000 has already been raised toward matching the grant.

Klooz said the Abbott House hopes to open the new Bridges home in August, but still needs to raise another $188,000 to avoid having to make payments on the home.

Lambert said the projects give Abbott House the opportunity to support those girls who need help beyond the facility's main treatment program.

"For us, this is really finishing the job we started," she said.

At the Abbott House's main facility, located at 909 Court Merrill St., near DWU, residential treatment is provided to girls ages 7 to 18.

Klooz said another Bridges home is a possibility for the future, but added it likely would not be located in Mitchell. Instead, Klooz said it could be located in Sioux Falls or Rapid City, where many of the Abbott House's girls are originally from.