With their past few days filled with consequences of thievery, a Vancouver couple decided to end the week on their own terms: by paying a good deed forward.
The story began Monday, when Courtney and Harly Forbes woke up to find their bike lock cut and their Peugeot tandem stolen from their front porch.
The couple are developmentally delayed and rely on the bike as their main means of transportation.
The Vancouver community responded with resounding support. Some offered their own bikes; others offered money. Among those touched by the couple’s misfortune were Richard and Jackie Riordan of Salmon Creek, who gave the Forbeses a custom-made tandem bike.
But the story didn’t end there.
The thief who took the Forbeses’ original tandem returned the bike to the couple’s house early Wednesday morning, with a note of apology signed, “Guilty.”
Because the couple now have two bikes, they announced Friday that they plan to donate their old tandem to the Washington State School for the Blind.
“We want them to feel the same way we do when we ride our tandem,” Harly Forbes said.
One of Courtney’s cousins is blind and has never ridden a bicycle, which helped the couple choose where to donate the bike, Courtney’s mother Kimberlee Turner said. “I’m really proud of them. They’ve got the biggest hearts,” she said.
Before either can be ridden, both tandems will need some repairs — which is where Don Joling steps in.
Joling, who hadn’t met the Forbeses until Friday, followed the twists and turns of their story and felt compelled to join the community show of compassion.
“I have the ability to do something,” he said. “It’s pretty straightforward … I knew I had to be involved.”
Although not a bike mechanic by trade, Joling is the director of the bike racing team Therapeutic Associates PDX Cycling and has a bike workshop at his Vancouver home.
He has spoken with the owner of Bike ’N’ Hike of Portland, a sponsor of Joling’s racing team, who has agreed to discount or donate parts to the couple.
Joling said he was happy that the couple is donating the bike to the blind school.
“Kids from the blind school ride by my house all the time,” he said, describing teachers steering from the front of the bike while students pedal from the back seat. “They always seem really happy.”
Overall, the Forbeses say the experience has been a good one.
“We’re happy that (the thief) returned it; otherwise we couldn’t pay it forward,” Harly Forbes said. “There are just a lot of good people out there.”