When Eric Helstrom won a new bicycle in a reading contest at Fort Fairfield Elementary School, he thought that since he and his brother already have good bikes, maybe someone else could use it.
The 9-year-old boy’s good intentions will help another youngster get around and experience the joy of riding a bike this summer, and it is inspiring others, said Fort Fairfield Police Chief Shawn Newell.
Helstrom’s grandfather approached Newell, relaying his grandson’s wishes and asking if the police could help find a someone who could use the new Huffy bike, Newell said in a post on the department’s Facebook page.
“After being in this job for over 21 years, I’ve seen a lot of good people do great things for others, and it’s remarkable what some people will do to help others. What really hits me in the heart is this generosity came from a 9-year-old boy,” Newell wrote. “I can tell you that when I was his age the thought of giving a brand new bicycle away would never have crossed my mind.”
Newell later took Helstrom out for ice cream at R&J’s Market. Helstrom, who’s heading into third grade this fall, picked coffee, his favorite flavor.
Police have not yet found a new rider for Eric’s donated bike, but his idea has spread within Fort Fairfield, Newell said.
A few days later, an anonymous donor called the department and offered to donate another new bike to a youngster who could use it, Newell said in a subsequent Facebook post.
Newell said he quickly thought of Jacob Williams, a Fort Fairfield middle schooler whose bike was recently vandalized and damaged by a group of teenagers. While Helstrom’s donated bike would have been too small for Williams, the anonymous donor bought him a new youth mountain bike that he’s now riding around town.
“To the exceptional gentleman who purchased this bicycle, I wish you could have been here to see Jacob’s smile and appreciation,” Newell wrote. “To Jacob, enjoy your new bicycle. Ride safe and some day when you are able to do so, pay it forward.”