EUCLID, Ohio (WJW) — There is a gym in Euclid filled with little giants but that’s by design. Fighting for the health of kids is the mission behind Little Giants created in 2014. Its goal is to help build safer communities by establishing a refuge for children.
“This place is extremely important,” said founder Calvin Love. “Our goal is to become the cornerstone of our community, to provide a safe haven for our children.
Kids like Aden Moses, 10, said he comes to the gym five days a week. In that time Love grew into more than a fitness coach.
“I love coming here because Coach Calvin,” he said. “I like him a lot, he’s like a father to me.”
Punching back against gun violence is what the team at Little Giants is now fighting against. A team of trainers is hitting the road for a more than 300-mile bicycle journey from Cincinnati to Cleveland. The ride will raise money to open a second location able to accommodate more children and make a larger impact in the community.
The physicality of the trip will not be entirely new for Love who overcame a life-altering injury in the ARMY.
“It was very scary, very traumatic. I was 23 years old, my daughter was only four months at the time,” said Love about his injury during training in the service. “In 2003, I suffered a spinal injury and as a result, I was paralyzed from the chest down.”
Initially told he may never walk again, Love pushed through which is something he credits to his physical fitness. Over the course of a year, he was back on his feet and ready for his next self-assigned mission — mentor.
“A lot of times when our kids walk in here, we instantly become fathers, uncles, brothers, mentors, cousins,” he said. “So, we wear multiple hats, and we wear them proudly.”
For years the business grew until they couldn’t accept all the children who wanted to join the gym. Then came another unexpected blow, this one reaching Love’s family.
“He was young, Quenton Copes Jr. He was 22 years old, very bright young man, he was well-loved,” said Love about the death of his nephew. “He was a boxer he participated in different tournaments. He became a National Champion, just a very good kid and wrong place, wrong time and he ended up being gunned down.”
The loss of his nephew further ignited his passion to help reduce gun violence.
“Bike to Unite Against Gun Violence is something that we’ve come up with to battle or bring awareness to gun violence within our community,” said Love.
Their goal is to raise $25,000. Love said they raised about 20 percent so far.
“It’s going to be a grueling ride… We are willing to sacrifice our time and really put ourselves in a position to challenge ourselves,” he said.
Love’s group will arrive back in Cleveland Sunday afternoon and host a balloon launch event at Edgewater for victims of gun violence. He said it’s important to continue to pour into the community the way men stepped up when he a child to become a mentor to him.
“Unfortunately, too many kids in our community are being gunned down and it’s becoming the norm and that’s unacceptable,” he said. “People are quick to say it takes a village, but the village has to step up and participate and fill those voids the children are having.”