For the past three weeks, Alex Belhorn has been riding his father’s bicycle after his GT Timberline was stolen May 25 from Hilliard Weaver Middle School.
But after learning about the theft of the $350 bicycle, the Norwich Township Fire Department’s union bought the 14-year-old a new one.
“It was a real surprise (and) something we never expected,” said Greg Belhorn, Alex’s father.
The firefighters were to deliver the bicycle on a ladder truck to the family’s residence June 19, but a rainstorm forced a quick change in the plans.
“We told him we were going out for dinner” but then drove to Norwich Station 81 on Northwest Parkway, his dad said.
Alex’s puzzlement did not last long.
Firefighter Justin Waples greeted the family and explained the firefighters’ decision to present him with a bike.
“We voted to do this, and we wanted to do something for the community,” he said.
The bike was purchased with proceeds from Norwich Township firefighters’ annual Mother’s Day flower sale, Waples said.
Fire Chief Jeff Warren told firefighters about the theft after Hilliard police posted the video of the crime, including an image of a man with a backpack riding from the school on the bicycle about 9:30 a.m.
“I took it to (members of International Association of Firefighters Local No. 1723), and we voted to buy (Alex) a new bike,” Waples said.
Previously, firefighters have used funds from the flower sale to sponsor Little League teams, 4-H at the Franklin County Fair and scholarships at each of the district’s three high schools.
The family was considering purchasing a new bicycle by the fall, Greg Belhorn said, because Alex, who will be a freshman at Davidson High School, is involved in the marching band and plays baseball.
Alex said he rode his bicycle to school May 25 and discovered it was gone when he returned at the end of the school day.
“It was a surprise. … I’m thankful,” said Alex, adding the new bike looks and feels similar to his stolen bike. The new bike -- a GT Aggressor -- is a different color from his stolen bike.
“He was using my bike” but didn’t like how it looked, his father said. “We’ve lived (in Hilliard) for 18 years. It’s fantastic how the community comes together. We couldn’t be luckier.”
After Alex took a quick ride around the parking lot, the family went next door to register the new bicycle with the Hilliard Division of Police.