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Caleb’s first ride: Donor pitches in to buy special bike

Posted at 10:37 PM, Apr 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-07 22:37:24-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich -- A nine-year old boy with autism is able to ride a bike for the first time thanks to an anonymous donor. Caleb Zondervan was entered in an online contest with 600 other children to win an adaptive bike.

FOX 17 first met with Caleb and his family two weeks ago when he needed your vote, but the very next day a viewer who saw Caleb's story called in and wanted to help. On Thursday at Alger Bikes, shiny new blue Buddy Bike was waiting for Caleb.

"At first I was completely stunned, but obviously very excited, thrilled and really thankful," said Robin Zondervan, Caleb's mom. "It is such a generous thing to do, and for Caleb it is going to make his whole summer. It was just really awesome."

The anonymous donor pitched in to cover the $2,500 price tag so Caleb could ride in style with the family. "Ray or I would have to stay home with Caleb if we wanted to go out biking as a family, so only part of the family would be able to go," said Robin. "This way, our entire family will be able to go."

The bike is different from most tandem bikes: steering is controlled from the back so Robin and Ray can keep and eye on Caleb while he sits up front. "I feel very comfortable that he is on the front of the bike, and I can see what he is doing and be there to pedal with him," said Ray Zondervan, Caleb's dad.

Caleb's younger brothers are a little jealous, but they are excited to ride their bikes with their brother.

"For Caleb, we try to make his world as typical as possible. But this will really help that, and he will be able to get out there, enjoy it and have a fun time," said Robin. "He works so hard at so many things, so this will really be awesome for him to be able to get out there and enjoy a typical bike riding experience than any kid would love to have."

The family says they are very excited to ride as a family for the first time this summer.