EMU police buy new tricycle for disabled student who was victim of theft
One of the undeniable things about life is that it is unfair. Lots of times, bad things happen to good people without a reasonable explanation.
Courtesy of Andrew Bowen
But, one of the best aspects of life occurs when people step up to try and set those bad things right.
When the Eastern Michigan University Public Safety Department saw one of those bad things happen to a student, they put in motion one of those defining moments.
Andrew Bowen, a 23-year-old EMU senior from Jackson, is a familiar and friendly face to many officers at the department. Bowen, who has cerebral palsy, was often seen riding his Worksman Tricycle around campus and had shared meals with officers at dining halls. Those meals and chance meetings around campus led to a friendship between Bowen and many campus police officers.
“He is a very bright student, always wears a smile and has developed personal friendships with our officers over the years,” said Officer John Phillips. “It is not uncommon to eat a meal with Andrew at the Dining Commons after class, and one of his simple pleasures was to ride his bike around campus.”
Bowen said he owned the tricycle for 14 years, since he was 9 years old. He had grown up on the trike and was very emotionally attached to it. While he wasn't totally dependent on the trike to get along, Bowen has difficulty walking due to his cerebral palsy and used the tricycle to go between classes and often for exercise, riding around campus recreationally.
Bowen had left the bike locked outside Buell Residence Hall and discovered it gone after attending class on April 3.
“I got back and I was like, ‘Holy crap someone stole my bike,’” he said. “Let me tell you, I was pissed.”
For the rest of the school year, Bowen gave himself more time to get to classes and felt fortunate that EMU’s campus is relatively smaller compared to other universities. He’s not legally allowed to drive, so the tricycle was his main mode of transportation, Bowen said.
Courtesy of Andrew Bowen
The news of Bowen’s stolen tricycle was one of those crimes that police took personally. Aside from actively investigating the case, which they continue to do, officers started thinking of ways to help their friend out during his time of need.
EMU Police Chief Bob Heighes said members of the department raised $600 in just a few weeks to buy Bowen a new tricycle. Donations came from everyone in the department — officers, dispatchers, secretaries and even parking personnel — and the trike is just a couple of weeks away from being delivered to Bowen, Phillips said.
It’s an act of kindness that’s blown Bowen away.
“You go from pissed off someone stole my bike to wow that’s really awesome,” Bowen said.
“I really appreciate them. The saying going above and beyond the call of duty wouldn’t really describe it.”
Phillips said the trike is going to be delivered to Bowen in the next couple of weeks. The look on Bowen’s face when he was told the department was buying him a new tricycle was its own reward, Phillips said.
“The smile on his face was worth more than the bike itself,” he said.
Phillips said the department places emphasis on employees building real, personal relationships with the people they serve.
The movement to get enough money to buy the tricycle for Bowen wasn’t just about making a wrong right, it was about helping out a friend, he said.
“We take pride in building trust with our staff, students and those who visit this university,” he said. “It is not uncommon for us to help those in need and we take pride in enhancing the quality of campus life.”
After the trike is delivered, Bowen plans on riding near his home this summer before returning to EMU for the fall semester.
He said he’ll be coming back to campus with a better understanding of the precautions he needs to take to protect himself. The tricycle that was stolen was secured with a cable bike lock and Bowen said this time he’ll invest in a heavy duty U-lock.
The investigation into the original theft continues, and Bowen’s anger at the incident is obvious when he speaks. However, he chose his words carefully when asked what he’d say to the thief.
“I hope they get caught. That’s all I have to say,” he said.