A gift from an anonymous donor puts the wheels back in motion for one local facility

Published: Aug. 13, 2022 at 4:05 PM AKDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - After a report of two stolen adult tricycles from a local organization in Fairbanks, an outpouring of community members offered to help fill the gap.

On Wednesday, August 3, 2022, employees of Step-In Autism Services noticed something was wrong when two of their adult tricycles and a mountain bike were missing from their backyard.

Andrew Ladd, who works as a registered behavioral technician for Step-In, said it was awful trying to explain that the bikes were stolen. For his adult clients, the tricycles are all they can ride due to balance and mobility issues.

Ladd added having these bikes was crucial to their outdoor activities. “The mood that day was really... we were just really down, clients and staff,” he said.

After word got out about the trikes, a number of community members called the organization asking how they could help. One anonymous donor went as far as to purchase a new trike for the facility.

“Mainly I just want to thank everybody, everybody for their concern, for just getting a hold of us and talking with us, and creating a dialogue between us and our community,” Ladd said. At that moment he looked over his shoulder as an employee from Beaver Sports brought him the new tricycle, which included a white basket on the back.

Ladd held back his excitement as the employee asked if the trike belonged to him. “I believe so... that is beautiful,” Ladd said. “Thank you so much.”

And the story doesn’t end there. The anonymous donor had purchased the tricycle in honor of a late friend, Carol Ann Tilley - and as fate would have it, her grandson just so happened to be there during the exchange.

Anthony DiLeonardo was shoe shopping at Beaver Sports after returning to Fairbanks Thursday evening. He said he overheard the Step-In employees inquire about the trike, and knew just what they were talking about.

“Just being out with my grandpa I had overheard about this story of the anonymous donor giving back in my grandma’s honor, and just by chance today, I ran into the crew that is telling this story on the news,” DiLeonardo said. “Very serendipitous in a way.”

DiLeonardo said he knows this would mean a lot to his grandma. He described her as being one of the most selfless individuals he had ever met, and would never hesitate to sacrifice for her family or friends. He added she was dedicated to her community on a small and large scale.

“It just feels like it’s my grandmother reaching across like... just yeah, it’s a very touching moment, “DiLeonardo said warmly. “It’s hard not having her anymore, but it’s a bright spot knowing that like her legacy and her impact is lived beyond in a way like... this it means a lot.”

Ladd mentioned another anonymous donor had purchased a second tricycle that is expected to be picked up sometime within the month.

Copyright 2022 KTVF. All rights reserved.