To give a sense of how much Maurice Strong’s bike is more than just a bike, he tells the story of how he arrived in Vernon in 2015.
Injured 15 years ago, and suffering a significant brain trauma, Strong has trouble balancing.
In 2013, while living in Winnipeg, he bought the specialized yellow bike he uses for transportation while towing his wheelchair behind him.
That gives him his independence.
In 2015, Strong rode that same bike across Western Canada when he moved from Winnipeg to Vernon.
“I can’t drive, so I bike,” said Strong, whose cherished, beloved specialty bicycle was stolen from his Alexis Park Drive home sometime between 8:30 p.m. Sunday, and 10:30 a.m. Monday.
The bike was under a cover at the rear of his home when it was stolen.
“My legs do the work. I can’t balance,” he said of his ability to ride the bike.
Strong was able to use his wheelchair mid-week, roll to the downtown Vernon bus terminus and hop the bus to go grocery shopping.
Friends have offered to pay for taxi service or give him rides to appointments, for which Strong is grateful.
But he wants his bike back.
“I can’t walk or anything,” he said. “It’s not just a bike. It’s pretty much my only way to get anywhere.”
The bike would be very expensive to replace and the theft has left Strong “absolutely devastated,” said his friend Caitlin McKenny in a Facebook post.
Two other friends, Kim Schnell and Leanne Wickenheiser, started a GoFundMe page for him on Wednesday—Maurice’s Wheels—with the hope of raising $5,000 to help Strong replace his wheels.
“This bike takes Maurice where his wheelchair cannot,” said Schnell. “Maurice, with his adventurous spirit, travels on his bike to his doctors’ appointments in town, (to) Kelowna and (even) as far as Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho.”
The theft was reported to police.
Anyone who sees the bike, or someone with it, is asked to call 250-542-2834 or 250-306-6769.