When the local Big Brother Big Sister, a mentoring nonprofit, shut down due to administration issues, Megan and Laura Kohner continued mentoring elementary school students after school. When the principal said they couldn’t continue mentoring without an organization, they started their own nonprofit.
“Bikes for Kidz” focuses on literacy and fitness in No Child Left Behind Title I recognized public elementary schools in Palm Beach County, Fla. Formed in 2007 with Andrew Kohner and a friend, the organization gives bikes to students at the end of the year as reward for their reading progress.
The Kohner twins were in seventh grade at the time.
“We didn’t want to abandon the kids,” Megan said.
A boy who used to hate to read when he started the program was at the local library where the twins would study. He ran up to them and showed them all the books he had in his hand.
“They really appreciated the attention,” Laura said. “It’s been an amazing experience. It means a lot seeing how happy they are.”
The organization has impacted over 1,000 students. The Kohner sisters’ still manage the administrative side; the president of the club at Suncoast Community High School leads the organization.
“I really miss the one-on-one interaction,” Megan said. “Being a mentor is more than you helping with homework. It’s about connecting with the kids.”
Now first-year Cox School of Business students, accounting major Megan and finance major Laura are interested in social entrepreneurship.
“Maybe even with you, if I still want to work with you,” Megan said to Laura.
The Florida natives are interested leaving an impact through for profit business. The Great Recession hit right about the time Bikes for Kidz started.
“Across the board, non profits took a hit,” Megan said. “There are less hurdles for profit organization, at least in my opinion.”
Even if they don’t work full-time in social work, they see it as part of their life.
“Ultimately impacting young students,” Megan said. “Because K-2nd grade impacts how you are even in high school.”
The outdoorsy twins came to SMU after falling in love with the campus their junior year.
“We knew we wanted to go to school together when we started the college process,” Lauren said.
The 19-year-olds are both Hunt and BBA scholars.
The twins, who were rewarded a $5,000 Pepsi grant for Bikes for Kidz after their social media campaign in high school, managed to gain traction on Twitter last semester after people noticed they wear exactly the same outfit head to toe.
“It’s more of a habit than a conscious decision,” Laura said.
Whichever twin wakes up earlier picks out the outfit. Most of the time, it’s Laura. The twins purchase everything in twos. If the store doesn’t carry two of something, they order it online.
“People always said ‘once you get in high school, that would change,’” Megan said. “We apparently didn’t. It might be four years from now or it could be tomorrow.”
This time, they were wearing long sleeved white scoped neck tops, seasucker scalloped edge shorts with tan patent leather flats.
“Our taste is similar, “Laura said. She wears her hair parted to the left and her watch on her left wrist.
“Sometime, I will find a pair of pants that I think is really cute and Laura is like are you crazy,” Megan said. She wears hear parted to the left and her watch on her left wrist.
“We chose not start fights over things like that,” Laura said. “We try to be really easy going.”
The twins have exactly the same class schedule and dorm together in Virginia-Snider in a suite. They share a room at their home in Wellington, Florida.
“Once you get to know them, there are differences in their personalities,” Florida State University student Joanne Sullivan said. Sullivan has known the twins for five years and was part of Bike for Kidz for three years.
Kohners both love music and reading. John Green’s “Fault in Our Stars” is a favorite. While Megan uses writing as an outlet, Laura actively searches for new artists. Panic at the Disco, Ed Sheeran and Fall Out Boy are Laura’s all time favorites.
“We share a lot of the same things,” Laura said. “Even if they aren’t coincidental.”
Watching sports, driving downtown at night and seeing all the lite up skyscrapers, five cats, and sledding in iced over Airline Garage during snow days are some of the things that the twins share other than their Nov. 1 birthday.
People tend to stop them and ask if they’re twins.
“We meet a lot of people that way,” Laura said.
“It’s really funny how many people ask the same questions,” Megan said.