Teri Vance: Stolen bike leads to community coming together

Jason Gardner competes in the newspaper toss during the End of Bike Week Party on Friday evening in McFadden Plaza.

Jason Gardner competes in the newspaper toss during the End of Bike Week Party on Friday evening in McFadden Plaza.

The story started in October when Matthew Ingbar, a 31-year-old Carson City man with Down Syndrome, had his bike stolen. It concluded Thursday when Ingbar rode that bike to City Hall to make a $3,000 donation to the Parks and Recreation Department’s Movers and Doers program.

“It’s great to know you live in a community where they can take such a negative and turn it into such a positive,” said Randy Gaa, who organized the fundraiser.

When Randy heard about the Oct. 30 theft, he immediately contacted the family and offered to help to replace the stolen tricycle, Matthew’s only form of transportation.

Matthew’s parents, Eric and Cary, who suspected the bike might turn up later, suggested, instead, the fundraiser benefit Movers and Doers, which provides recreational experiences for people with intellectual and or physical disabilities and their families.

“This isn’t just about Matthew,” Cary explained. “This is about people like Matthew in this community, and there are a lot of them. It’s about being kind and being aware and being a little bit more thoughtful. This is the best way we could think to benefit the most people.”

After the story broke on local news outlets and was shared “a gazillion times” on social media, the Ingbars’ predictions proved true.

A member of the community found the trike abandoned off of Deer Run Road and it was returned to Matthew just three weeks’ shy of the day it went missing.

“The outpouring was amazing,” Cary said. “From Gardnerville and Minden to Reno and Dayton, it was truly a community response. I’m sure that’s the reason his bike was returned.”

The GoFundMe page Gaa created raised $3,000, which Matthew presented to Carol Dunn, site director of the Movers and Doers program, on the steps of City Hall on Thursday morning.

After consulting with Matthew, who’s an avid sports fan, Carol said she has some ideas on how to spend the donation.

“This money is going to go really far for us,” she said. “A portion of it will definitely go to attending Aces games.”

She said the program, which hosts activities ranging in participation from 10-15 to 150 people, also received about $400 in direct donations.

She explained it’s a 50 percent cost recovery program, meaning that for every $5,000 it spends, it has to bring in $2,500.

Carson City Parks and Recreation Director Jennifer Budge said the department is working to get more funding into the program as well as expanded resources.

She said all new parks will be at least 50 percent universally accessible for all ages and abilities, starting with a park planned for Shulz Ranch and playground equipment for Ross Gold Park — both of which will be 100 percent universally accessible.

“It helps really meet a need in the community,” Budge said. “And, it’s just the right thing to do.”

Cary said the community has always been supportive of Matthew, with his classmates always going out of their way to say hello to him when out and about.

“We have a good community,” she said. “We have good people, and they have always been so kind to Matthew.”

Matthew was pleased as well.

“I got my bike back,” he proclaimed proudly.

Teri Vance is a journalist, freelance writer and native Nevadan. Contact her with column ideas at terivance@rocketmail.com.


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