UNIVERSAL CITY, Texas – A 91-year-old Texas veteran was reunited with his stolen bicycle, thanks to the power of social media.
Herman Gawlik, of Universal City, said he has been riding a bicycle daily since he joined the Air Force in 1946, WOAI reported.
“I enjoy it. It gives me a little exercise,” Gawlik told KSAT. “I even ride it to Randolph Air Force Base to do some Trade Union shopping.”
That changed Friday when Gawlik’s bicycle was stolen from the front porch of his home.
Gawlik’s granddaughter, Melissa Blank, immediately posted on social media, asking friends to be on the lookout for the bicycle, KSAT reported.
“The bike to him is everything,” Blank told the television station. “It kind of gives them a little freedom, and he can do it when he wants to do it.”
Blank said the response was overwhelming. Her Facebook post was shared thousands of times, and people from Ohio and North Carolina even offered to donate money to help Gawlik get a new set of wheels.
“So many people wanted to donate money and wanted to donate new bikes for him,” Blank told WOAI.
Christopher Stewart. who drives an ice cream truck through the neighborhoods of Universal City, offered to donate a bicycle to Gawlik.
“We had this three-wheeler available, so I was reaching out to someone else in the community, how we could get in touch with them,” Stewart told WOAI. “We were able to meet up with them (Sunday) night and get them this bike.”
The substitute bicycle was not necessary. Blank wrote on Facebook that “a nice lady messaged me saying someone sold her a bike that looked very similar the evening I said it went missing.”
Blank offered to buy the bicycle back, but said the woman refused cash. By Monday, Gawlik was back on his bicycle, pedaling through the neighborhood and waving to friends.
“Welcome back, I missed it very much,” Gawlik told KSAT.
Blank said she is still overwhelmed by people who were willing to help.
“It is so hard to wrap my head around the amount of people wanting to buy a new bike for my Grandpa,” Blank wrote on Facebook. “It shows how many people have hearts of gold.”