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Good Samaritan from Australia reaches out to help local teen

Left to right: GHS teacher Tom Carr, Piche's Ski & Bike technician Dana Farley, GHS senior Connor McKenna, Brian Injury Association Business Manager Jane Karagianis, and Laconia Area Bike Exchange Interim Director John Rogers. (Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
May 02, 2018
It's not every day that the staff at Piche's Ski and Sport Shop gets an order for a new bike from a customer in Australia, much less one to be donated to a local organization.

"At first, I thought it was some kind of scam," states Patrick Bolduc. "He told me where he was calling from and asked if we carried a specific brand of bike. He explained that he read a Facebook post about a bike that was discovered stolen from the Laconia Area Bike Exchange in Laconia and he was interested in donating one to replace it."

Touched by the caller's generosity, Bolduc not only ordered the bike, but offered it at a discounted price.

John Rogers, Interim Director of the organization, discovered the donated bicycle missing when he arrived to meet Gilford High School teacher Tom Carr, who was to pick up a bike for a student in need.

"We selected the bike specifically for this boy, who, at six-foot four-inches and a stocky build, needed a bike that was larger than normal," Rogers explained. "Being a nice quality bike, it had been inside the shop and padlocked for added securely, but I had unlocked it and pulled it forward a few days earlier in preparation for delivery."

GHS Senior Connor McKenna had outgrown his five-year-old bike, which was no longer sturdy enough for the 40-minute bike ride from his home to his job in Meredith.

"My parents drive me to work when they can, but I had to turn down a lot of shifts that were offered to me because they weren't able," he said.

Upon hearing of the boy's situation, Kristin Snow, a substitute teacher at GHS, directed him to the Laconia Area Bike Exchange. A nominal donation was made, and Carr, the boy's School Advisor, provided transportation to the shop to pick up the bike.

"He was crushed," states Carr, about the boy's reaction to the missing bike.

A photo was obtained from a nearby security camera and posted to the LABX Facebook Page, requesting the community's help in recovering the bike. The post touched on the heartstrings of a man in Australia who saw it due to friends in the area. Within a matter of hours, the Bike Exchange received a message from the Facebook user with instructions to call Piche's to arrange delivery of a bike which he had ordered and paid for in full. The donor requested to remain anonymous, simply asking to be identified as "a former disadvantaged Laconia kid seeking to pay back the generosity and goodwill extended to me by so many in the Laconia area many years ago. Those kind gestures helped me see that I could break the cycle and turn my life around."

In addition to the bike, a helmet was donated by Jane Karagianis, Business Manager at The Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire.

"This was a team effort with many people contributing generously," states Rogers. "It really renews your faith in humanity."

The Laconia Area Bike Exchange is located in the annex behind Eased Edges on Court Street in Laconia. Hours are Tuesdays 4-5:30 p.m., Thursdays and Saturdays 11 a.m. -1 p.m. to serve those in need of alternate transportation. Appointments may also be made by emailing labx2014@yahoo.com. The organization is looking for volunteers to assist with a spring cleanout of inventory on Saturday, May 19, 9-noon, with children's bikes being donated to local non-profits. On that date from 12-3 classic adult road and racing bikes will be sold for $10-$50. Donations of usable adult mountain bikes are always accepted, but due to space limitations, it is requested that people inquire before bringing other types of bikes for donation. For current information follow LABX on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LaconiaAreaBikeExchange/.

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