BUFFALO, Minn. (WCCO) — A Menards employee famous for his smile is now smiling even wider.

Paul Pykonnen can’t drive, and his bike was broken. So a customer started a GoFundMe page to replace it. Fellow shoppers in Buffalo and WCCO viewers pitched in, collecting more than $25,000.

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It wasn’t a typical shopping trip. Paul Pykonnen wasn’t there to browse, he was there to buy.

Mike Burger is the manager of Erik’s Bike Shop in Maple Grove.

“Paul is one of those people who may not have a lot, but what he has, he gives freely,” Burger said.

Now, others are giving freely to him and his wife, Leah. Todd Sandberg started the fundraising effort.

“He wants to see every single person who’s donated and look them in the eye and he told me ‘I want to look them in the eye and thank them,’ that’s who Paul is,” Sandberg said.

And in between bike purchase decisions, he did just that.

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“I want to say thank you so much from the bottom of my heart,” Pykonnen said.

He had a lot to be thankful for. The manager at Erik’s Bikes in Maple Grove helped him pick the perfect battery-assisted bike.

Paul smiled and said, “I don’t deserve it, it’s a God thing.”

But a lot of people think he does deserve it. He took his first spin on his new wheels and he smiled ear to ear, in awe of his new ride.

The only thing that could possibly make this purchase better was to double it.  Paul got a fat-tire bike for winter too; A satisfied customer whose satisfied so many others.

“Hopefully you will see me ride off in the sunset and do some doughnuts,” Pykonnen said.

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Paul’s father will help manage the extra, donated money. It will go to help Paul and his wife, who also has disabilities. Paul plans to use some of the money to pay it forward.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield