Within minutes of our story airing about Charlie Chapman, 17, having his new bike stolen near 11th and Memorial, our phones were ringing with folks offering help.
More than two dozen people, couples and business owners came forward offering to donate money, buy Charlie a new bike, or to donate a bike they already have.
The first person to step up was Jessica Dyer with Soaring on Hope Pediatric Therapy and Autism Center. She and her team raised the $600 to buy Charlie the exact same bike that was stolen from him last month.
“I reached out to the team and everybody unanimously voted this is what they wanted the money to go to for this month,” Jessica Dyer said.
Dyer went to the same bike shop that ordered Charlie’s first bike and ordered a new one right down to the same color and accessories.
“He is a typical 17-year-old in many ways. He wants his independence, he wants to be able to be out and about. I mean, it’s not fair for somebody to believe that just because somebody has autism that they don’t have the right to ride their bike around town,” Dyer added.
At the same time Dyer reached out, Sandy Ferguson was creating a GoFundMe page to raise up enough money for a new bike. The two had no idea that at the very same time they were working to make sure that Charlie’s bike was replaced.
“It broke my heart to think that we have people in Tulsa that would take from a child,” Ferguson said.
She tells us she asked her husband what she should do and he told her to get right on it -so she did! Within a few days, Sandy raised more than $500 and added some of her own money to make it an even $600.
Related Story: Autistic Tulsa Teen's Bike Stolen
Instead of taking the money from Sandy to pay for the bike, Soaring on Hope wanted that money to go to Charlie’s grandma, Carolyn, to use to buy Charlie a new helmet, bike lock, and accessories. Soaring on Hope made Carolyn promise that she would use some of the money to do something nice for herself. Carolyn said she may use some of the donations to treat herself to an adult movie - something she hasn’t done in years.
“It’s wonderful to be part of the good story,” Ferguson said.
With news cameras rolling, Chapman, Dyer, and Ferguson all looked on as Charlie’s school bus pulled up Tuesday afternoon. Charlie got off his bus with his new bike sitting in the driveway.
“I couldn’t wait to see his face, and he doesn’t always smile a lot but he was sure beaming when he got off that bus,” Chapman said.
Charlie went up to his bike, honked the horn and immediately asked if he could put it inside the house - afraid that this one might get stolen, too.
Everyone watched as Charlie got on his bike and took it for its first ride down the street. With the wind to his back, the group questioned if he was ever going to come back.
“We’re so thankful, so thankful,” Chapman said.
For those wondering, the person who took Charlie’s bike was never located.
And for those who offered to donate a bike, Soaring on Hope has a bike donation program at its facility. If you would like to donate a bike, they will pair it with one of the kids who attend the center.