The world became significantly smaller for 31-year-old Matthew Wondra when his three-wheeled bike, a gift from his late father, was stolen from his trailer park in Illinois. For Matthew, who has a rare genetic disease, the bike was his sole means of getting around.
But a remedy was soon found when a kind stranger read about Matthew’s loss on social media. A fellow resident of Granite City, she decided to intervene, paying him a visit with a surprise in the back of her SUV.
Matthew’s mom Terri told NBC she was “definitely angry” when her son’s bike was taken. “He kept looking out saying, ‘Mom where’s my bike?’” she said.
Matthew’s sister had set out to help her brother—who suffers from Lowe syndrome, often characterized by vision and kidney problems, weak muscle tone, and brain abnormalities. She posted about his stolen bike on a community Facebook page with hopes of raising funds for a new one.
However, a kind stranger stepped in before she could do so.
A local mom of two, Venessa Duckett, took it upon herself to get Matthew a replacement bike because she simply felt it was the “right thing to do.”
“This town, when I grew up, there was a lot of generous people,” she told the news outlet. “There was times when I didn’t have shoes or a coat and people in this town helped me out.”
So Duckett called local bike shop Breese Bikes for some tips on how to assemble the specialized bike. Owner Patrick Breese went a step further by putting the bike together himself—free of charge.
“Somebody stole his bike in the trailer park and that’s his transportation,” an outraged Breese said. Working on bikes is something he started doing as a child; now his chosen vocation would give back to his community.
After driving to Matthew’s house, Duckett knocked on the door and invited the unsuspecting 31-year-old out into the parking lot where his brand-new bike awaited in the back of her SUV.
“His reaction was priceless,” she recalled.
A touching photo captured the moment Matthew saw his gift. He clasped both hands over his face to mask his shock, and perhaps a tear.
Mathew’s mother, moved to tears, marveled at the generosity of the woman who had been a perfect stranger moments earlier. “She’s got a big heart, a caring heart,” Terri praised.
Rather than “paying it forward,” Duckett said, she hoped buying the new bike for Matthew was “paying it back“ to the community which helped raise her.
“If we all make each other’s life a little bit easier, could you imagine what kind of world it would be?” she added.