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Brooklyn Park 6th grader serves up pancakes for kids in Africa

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Published on Aug 7, 2017

Early morning at a home in Brooklyn Park, when most 12-year-olds are asleep, you'll find Colby Harrer hard at work. This past Saturday morning, chef Colby got out the griddle for his Second Annual Pancake Breakfast.
"It all started out I really enjoyed making pancakes," said Colby, a student at St. Vincent de Paul school in Brooklyn Park.
This wasn't your normal pancake breakfast either. He had to prepare a couple months in advance to invite neighbors and friends, who signed up in droves.
"They were telling me, like, 'really? you're having another pancake breakfast' and they were giving me good compliments, 'oh I definitely love your chocolate chip pancakes, I'm definitely coming back this year.'"
But this year came with music and a cause. Colby found out about Minnesota-based BIZAA, a nonprofit that helps kids in Nigeria go to school.
"I just think it's one of those things. His DNA was wired that way," Brian Harrer, Colby's father. "It's extremely unusual, we've got three boys and the other two want nothing to do with cooking."
It turns out the founder of the group Colby is helping is also wired differently. Okey Anyanwu, who attended Colby's pancake breakfast, was 13 years old when he had the idea to help kids go to school in his native Nigeria. Anyanwu wanted them to have opportunities like he had at a Nigerian boarding school. He noticed many children having to work to support their families. In some cases, it was comparable to slave labor.
"I kept thinking, 'okay, I need a lot of money to help these kids out and get him off the streets and into the classrooms,'" Anyanwu remembered. "That wish haunted the whole of my childhood and as an adult."
Today that wish is being carried through kids like Colby.
"What you do in your back yard here could affect somebody that's thousands of miles across the ocean," said Anyanwu.
Colby's goal was to raise about $1,000, which is enough a send a child to school in Nigeria for an entire year. He says he will hold another pancake breakfast next year.
Corey Bork, reporting
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