Indian Trail boy ‘pays it forward’ after community helps replace stolen bike

Indian Trail boy 'pays it forward' after community helps replace stolen bike

INDIAN TRAIL, N.C. (WBTV) - If you ask 14-year-old Ben Shoniker, his bike is the best thing he has. He bought it with his own birthday money – his first big purchase.

“Especially having special needs, I really don’t let him out of arms reach,” mom Rebecca Shoniker says. “So, the bike really is independence for him.”

That is, until it went missing from his family’s garage. They suspect it was stolen, when the then-broken garage door was left open.

“I dealt with him, because that was the first thing that needed to be dealt with, and got him off to school,” Shoniker says. “And then had a little bit of a breakdown, because it is so important to him.”

The mom took to the web.

“I posted on Facebook, just the local sites,” she says.

She was hoping someone would spot the special bike. But what she got in return, was even better.

“That was actually incredible overwhelming,” Shoniker says.

Dozens of neighbors replied to the posts, offering their extra bikes for Ben.

“We only need one bike, we only have one kid,” Shoniker says, laughing. “And all these people like, ‘I have a bike in my garage,’ it was a lot.”

Because of a caring community, the teen has new wheels now. But what to do with all those extras?

“There’s lots of kids that won’t have a bike for the summer,” Shoniker says. “So, what can we do to really turn this around and pay it forward?”

She works for the school system, which will help her distribute these donations. Now titled “Ben’s Bike Project,” it’s a little positivity, from a bad situation.

“It’s a community effort, really,” the mom says. “I’m just trying to keep track of it.”

Shoniker says once she has all the bikes, she will work with local guidance counselors in Union County to find homes for all these donations. Extra monetary funds raised will buy helmets.

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