ROCK HILL, S.C. (CN2 News) – A love for bikes is a family affair for Austin Griffin and his mom. His dad was a BMX racer, and Austin wants to follow in his footsteps.
Griffin said, “Ever since I started elementary school we’ve been doing this little unit about biking and it’s gotten me really excited.”
He received his very first bike last year.
Griffin, a triplet is 11 years old, and has autism.
His mother Jennifer Tomchek says she hadn’t bought one, because bikes to meet his needs can cost thousands of dollars. “He can’t keep his balance, his center of gravity is off.”
So he was missing out on a major milestone, and wanted nothing more than to be able to hang out with his peers.
“It allows him to be, for a little bit, a typical kid,” Tomchek said.
The firefighter motorcycle club Fire and Iron spent 40 to 50 hours building Austin a fire engine red custom bike to meet his specific needs.
“This bicycle was gifted to him for a special reason, so he was able to ride his bike with his brother and sister.” said Stewart “Joker” Russel, a member and former firefighter.
But then, his precious bike was stolen.
Tomchek recalls the moment she realized the bike was gone.”As I pulled up and I realized it wasn’t on the porch, my heart sank. And I got up looked and made sure the one on the road wasn’t his. You know that’s an irreplaceable bike. Having to brake the news to him that his bike was gone, was devastating.”
Jennifer says a typical bike for an autistic child with similar needs as Austin could run in the thousands.
“We got it back, but it was in pieces so my son and I, we put it back together with the help of our crew.” Russel said.
His son Jon Mikal said he felt it was important to help Austin, “it just hurt me that someone would steal a bike, especially from a kid with Autism, so I really felt the need to get the bike rebuilt fast.”
So that’s what the station 88 chapter of Fire and Ice did.
Griffin says it was the best news he’s ever received, “I was just so relieved, I just want to thank them one more time for finding my bike and bringing it back to me. I just want to give them one big pat on the back.”
His mom Tomchek was ecstatic. “He gets to ride his bike again which is an awesome thing.”
Firefighters serving and protecting us from fires, and satisfying this young boy’s need for speed, and helping to restore Griffin’s faith in humanity.