Not Pictured- Co-Owner Shannon Kasten and Greg Blount.
When the county fair rolls around every year it’s generally a joyous time for most. It’s a time for family and friends to get together, a time for the community to come together to have fun and enjoy the many exhibits and festivities on display. Unfortunately, thanks to the selfish act of another, this year’s fair was anything but joyous or festive for one local young man.
“Austin and his cousin rode their bikes to the fairgrounds that Friday afternoon,” explains Jessica Nowak of Merrill, of her 12-year-old son Austin Graap. “He rode his bike everywhere so I didn’t think anything of it. But I’ll never forget the phone call when he told me someone had taken it. He was crying and very upset, he had trouble explaining what had happened….and then I started crying of course and became pretty upset….I just could not believe someone would do such a thing.”
Even though young Austin took precautions by securing his bike with a lock, that didn’t stop the thief. In fact, when Austin came to retrieve the bike, he found the lock had been cut and the bike was gone.
“He walked around and around the grounds looking for it, but it was gone,” Nowak continues. “He found a police officer and let him know too, but it was never found. He has really missed having a bike, like I said he rode the bike everywhere. The bike was a pretty high-end brand and he saved up for a long time to buy it, he even sold his Nintendo 64 and games so he could get it. As a mother, it just bugs you to see your son so upset and if I could have, I would have went out and bought him another one to just like it. But a bike like that is expensive, I just couldn’t afford it.”
Just when it looked as if Austin would spend the rest of the summer without his prized bicycle, which he had worked so hard for, John Cody and the crew at Auto Jockeys of Merrill stepped in to change all that.
“I had read about Austin’s bike being stolen on social media,” John explains. “All the guys in the shop decided to help Austin out, so we all chipped in to get him a new bike. We are firm believers in being active in the community and helping out others whenever we can. The smile on his face when he seen it was really what it was all about.” Cody adds with a grin. The result of the shop’s generosity is a brand new, 2015 Premium Solo bicycle, blue in color, identical to the Haro bicycle which had been stolen. “When John contacted me, I was so shocked I cried!” Jessica adds as she glances down at her son and his new bicycle, an expression of disbelief still evident in her expression. “I was so happy. I just couldn’t believe they would do this for him. We will always be so grateful for them and what they did for us.”