Community rallies to help replace girl's stolen handcycle

Posted at 12:50 PM, Jun 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-24 15:50:10-04

A young girl whose handcycle was stolen last week has a new one thanks to the generosity of community members.

In just six days, Peggy Dermody and her daughter, Claire, went from heartbreak to happiness.

"I'm speechless," Dermody said Friday. "I said last week I don't have words to describe my anger. Now, I don't have the words to describe how happy I am."

Dermody was happy to see her daughter pedal around the parking lot at Road Runner Sports in Clairemont on a brand new handcycle, with a huge smile on her face.

Claire has spina bifida and needs the bike and a wheelchair to get around.

Last Friday, both were stolen while the Dermody family was visiting relatives in Mission Beach.

Claire's mom had just taken them out of the car while bringing things inside. By the time she went back, only two wheels were left.

"It's like taking her legs," Dermody told 10News on Saturday.

By Monday, the community had rallied, giving Claire her legs back.

"You wouldn't believe the … just the amount of emails and phone calls and Facebook messages we've received," said Dermody.

Athlete Helping Athletes, a foundation run by Road Runner Sports, got involved and helped get a new handcycle for Claire in less than six days. They also helped line up loaner wheelchairs until a new one arrives.

To date, the foundation has helped 1,118 kids get new bikes.

For Claire and her mom, it's more than movement -- the bike represents freedom.

"That's what it's about," Dermody said. "She loves to be independent and free and she loves the speed and this gives her independence."