As Karen Lamb recounted in a letter to the editor, her son had sat with the box on his lap on Christmas Eve, waiting impatiently for the OK to open it.
Inside: a BMX helmet to match his BMX bicycle. It wasn't just any bike. Nick, 14, had earned it by faithfully participating in the Freewheel Project's summer camp, which educates Valley youth about financial management, social responsibility and the dangers of substance abuse.
But Nick's joyous Christmas was turned upside down when a thief swiped his bike while he was in a grocery store for a few minutes. Moreover, his family couldn't afford to replace it. Wrote his mom in a letter that appeared in The Bee on Jan. 2, "So parents, if your child came home last Thursday with a black Haro 200.2 BMX bike, he didn't get it from Santa Claus. He stole it from my son."
Several offers to replace the bike immediately came into The Bee, which were relayed to Lamb. She also received an offer of help from the office of Fresno County Supervisor Debbie Poochigian.
A Sacramento man called Lamb and told her to have Nick select a new bike and "hardcore" lock at Steven's Bicycles, and he would take care of the tab. The man told Lamb he didn't want to be identified and to tell Nick that an "angel' had helped him.
"Nick was able to pick up the bike Saturday, and I am so grateful to see his faith in humanity restored," Lamb says. "There are angels among us."
That is the lesson of this story — a lesson that bears repeating at a time when so much of the media's attention is focused on crime. The overwhelming number of people in our community are good, honest and caring.
And now Nick, a special-needs child, is paying the gift forward.
"Since Nick had already started saving to replace his bike," Lamb says, "I have suggested that he continue saving and donate half of what he accumulates to the Freewheel Project."
Lamb contacted others who offered to replace Nick's bike and says they have agreed to help sponsor bicycles for the 2014 camp at Woodward Park. To learn more about the camp, go to the Freewheel Project's Facebook page.
Says Lamb: "Nick is as happy as a clam with his new bike, which is almost identical to the one that was stolen. I want to thank everyone who played a role in Nick's Christmas miracle."
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