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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Stolen bike story tugs at community's heart

From the Coeur d'Alene Press:

Kristian Parrett was a wanted boy Saturday morning.

People googled his name. They phoned the police. They called and emailed The Press. They drove on west Rousseau Drive to knock on the front door of his home.

All sought the 11-year-old for the same reason: They wanted to replace his stolen bike.

And just a few hours after the simple story of a theft was published in Saturday's Press, Kristian was pedaling a new bike, wearing a huge grin.

He will not be walking to Woodland Middle School next week, after all.

"The generosity from all the people was amazing," said Kristian's mom, Stacey Sprock. "His smile is so big, I can't imagine him being any happier. Now, he's excited for school to start."

Not only did he receive a new Mongoose 26-inch mountain bike, he was given gift certificates and cash, which he's not keeping for himself. Instead, Kristian plans buy bikes for kids at Children's Village.

"I really want to thank everyone who wanted to help me with a bike," he said. "l like it so much."

He wasn't so happy last Friday.

Following a summer of chores to earn $100, he bought a cherished two-wheeler at the Walmart in Hayden. That same day, just a few hours later, it was stolen while he was at the Kroc Center picking up free school supplies.

A disappointed Kristian said he would start over, work hard, save money, buy another bike.

But hold on.

His mom notified the Press, which ran a story and photo on page C1. One of the people who read that article was Steve Stoops, shift manager of the Hayden Walmart. It was "automatic," he said, to want to help.

His wife Julie also saw the story. She turned to her husband and said, "Are you taking care of that?"


"I saw the work he put forth, saving up to buy the bike. It brought me back to when I was a kid," Stoops said. "I would have been devastated if that happened to me."

One problem: He had no idea where Kristian lived, so he called the police to see if they could help. An officer soon arrived at the Parrett door with a message that Stoops and Walmart wanted him to see him at the store.

There, a thrilled Kristian shook his head in disbelief and said thank you as he accepted the shiny black-and-red bike.

"I'm surprised and really, really happy," Kristian said.

Stoops also gave him a heavy duty bike lock and also presented a bike to Kristian's little sister.

"It was just something I wanted to do," he said.

The Press received around 20 calls and emails from readers on Saturday, looking for Kristian. One man wanted to give Kristian his son's old bike, which he said was like new. Another wanted to take him to a store and have him pick out a new bike. A bike shop owner called and offered to give him a free bike.

When Kristian was at Walmart, a customer gave him a gift certificate. When he got home, someone had dropped off an envelope with cash.

One reader who called the Press but wanted to remain anonymous was not surprised at the outpouring for a boy.

"It was kind of as I suspected. In this town, you publish a story like that, you've got people who will come out of the woodwork," he said. "I think it's one of the charming things about this town."

Robert Krumsick of Hayden said he wanted to help because when he was a child, he had a bike stolen within a week of its purchase. He said how Kristian worked hard to earn the bike, and how he responded after it was stolen, made him want to buy the boy a new bike.

"He sounded like one hell of a kid, he really does. To work that hard and get it stolen, unbelievable."

"As soon as I read the article, I looked at my wife and said, 'I want to buy that kid a new bike.' and she said, 'Do it then.'"

Stacey Sprock said she is proud of her community for being so loving and caring.

"I never in my wildest dreams thought people would offer to give him a bike," she said.

Kristian, who will be a sixth-grader this year, plans to do more than just guard his bike better. He'll be collecting money to buy bicycles for Children's Village.

"All these kids will be really eager to have these new bikes, and they'll be really happy," he said. "I like it when kids are happy."

Staff writer Tom Hasslinger contributed to this report.

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