Pay It Forward - North Minneapolis Gym Gives Kids a Fighting Chance

12/7/2016 10:00:00 AM

Pay It Forward
“When I come here and I see how everyone’s working together as a team and as a family, it’s by far and away the most powerful thing that I’ve been involved with, and I feel blessed to be a part of this.” – Victor Mills

Pay It Forward dollars helped fund the Fighting Chance Boxing Club, which provides free programming for kids in north Minneapolis.

Bell Employee

Cindy Zemien

Apple Valley, Minnesota


Fighting Chance Boxing Club, north Minneapolis

The Need

In 2015, Fighting Chance MN, a nonprofit organization, converted a vacant fire station in north Minneapolis into a gym where kids could go for free programming, a meal and to connect with mentors.

Because of the poverty level in the community, it could not support the gym financially on its own. The gym has boxing and fitness equipment, a yoga studio, a community kitchen and a community garden. Club membership is free for kids 18 and under and donation-based for anyone over 18.

“We want this to be a safe place for them to come to work through any potential issues that they have,” said Ryan Burnet, a Minneapolis developer and restauranteur who founded Fighting Chance with retired Minneapolis police officer Victor Mills.

The Impact

When she heard about the Fighting Chance Boxing Club, Cindy Zemien, a Bell Bank loan officer who works in Bell’s Apple Valley office, wanted to help. Her dad trained professional fighters and also helped kids get off the streets and give them purpose through a similar program.

“That’s why this whole thing with Fighting Chance was just meant to be for me,” she said.

Seven Bell Bank employees pooled their Pay It Forward dollars to donate $13,600 to Fighting Chance.

Fighting Chance_1
Fighting Chance_2
Fighting Chance_3
Fighting Chance_1
Fighting Chance_2
Fighting Chance_3