By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — After thieves stole two adaptive bikes from a Hinckley man, neighbors stepped up in a big way.

Forty-two-year-old Wayne Martini has Down syndrome and is non-verbal. Six months ago, thieves stole his three-wheel bicycle, also known as an adult trike.

After his family bought him a new one, the thieves also stole that one.

“That was very irritating,” said Julie Leger, Wayne’s mom. “We didn’t make a big deal about it, we just figured we’ll just get him another one.”

A week-and-a-half ago, thieves busted a lock and stole his replacement bike in the middle of the night.

“We never thought anybody come right in our yard and steal from us like that,” Julie said. “[Wayne] missed it a lot. It’s about the only way I can get him to exercise [laughs]! He spends a lot of time on his bike.”

So Julie turned to Facebook for help.

Wayne Martini (credit: CBS)

“My Facebook post was to have people help me watch for it so we can catch the person that took it — and it went viral,” she said.

People from all over began offering to buy Wayne a new bike with a sturdier lock. A woman from the family’s church and another friend split the cost, and on Wednesday afternoon a shiny, green Schwinn arrived.

“It was awesome, so awesome. His smile is the best,” said Teanna Greene, Wayne’s sister.

It took a while to put it together, but it was well worth it.

“We got it done probably a half-hour before he got home [laughs]!” Julie said. “He had a smile on his face when he saw it,” said Julie.

Their church’s pastor says, “See a need, meet a need.” So some friends who stepped up started a GoFundMe page to help people like Wayne get a new set of wheels.

“First you’re mad because this happened, but then, you know, it restores your faith in humanity,” Teanna said.

They’re now close to raising enough money to buy bikes for three more people with special needs — giving Wayne some company on the open road.

“The whole thing makes a heart feel pretty good, knowing that I was wrong. There are good people yet, especially people that care for people like him,” Julie said.

Wayne’s friends are now hoping to start a nonprofit group that would raise money to buy bikes for people with special needs.

His family would like to thank Alicia Ascheman, Jeff Jahnz and everyone else who helped get him his new bike.

John Lauritsen