More than just a bicycle: Theft hinders Ironton man

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 29, 2007

Bicycles are important to a lot of people.

Young people ride them for the sheer joy and entertainment. Some adults use them for exercise. Others ride them on rough terrain in scenic places.

But for 22-year-old Kristopher Hager, it’s different.

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His bicycle has a much more meaningful purpose in his life.

“The people at Children’s Hospital said that was what was keeping him walking,” said his mother, Kim Chamblin. “The ability to ride his bicycle keeps him limbered up.”

Hager was born with spina bifida, a birth defect that causes an incomplete formation of the spinal cord. Doctors told Chamblin that her son would never walk, talk or ride a bicycle.

But he did walk. He did talk. And he did ride a bicycle.

But on Monday, his bicycle was stolen.

Meeting a friend at a local gas station, someone apparently broke the lock and stole the bike when he was inside.

“It had a very good, quality lock on it,” Chamblin said. “Someone must have broken a spoke or had a good set of cutters.”

Making the theft even more painful for Chamblin is knowing how hard her son worked to purchase the bike seven years ago.

He worked as a carryout at Bartram & Son grocery for several months to earn enough money to purchase the specialty bike.

“He saved every paycheck and every tip he got,” Chamblin said. “It was a real struggle for him.”

Hager said the bicycle has sentimental and practical value.

“It was the very first thing I ever bought myself,” said Hager, who said he rides up to 30 miles per day. “It really means a lot to me because that was the only way I had to get around. It kept me from being in a wheelchair.”

The bike was specially ordered for his height and it had strong shocks with a special, short suspension. It was a 24-speed giant warp bike that resembles an off-road mountain bike.

Anyone with information on the bicycle can contact Sgt. Beth Rist with the Ironton Police Department at (740) 532-2338.

“We’re just praying that someone will have a good heart and return the bike with no questions asked,” Chamblin said. “The bike really means the world to him.”