OTSEGO, Mich. — Zackery Van Dusen doesn’t have much. He grew up in a poor town with only his dad by his side. But his father was all that he needed.
“He’s been with me for most of my life,” said the 18-year-old during an interview outside his home. “My mom gave me away to him because she couldn’t support me.”
When Van Dusen was younger, his dad made sure he learned how to read and write in school. When he was going through his toughest time as a teenager, he bought him a professional BMX DK Helio bike to motivate him to turn his life around when he got out of Juvenile Detention.
“My dad bought it for me for my birthday,” said Van Dusen about the bike which had gold rims and was worth hundreds of dollars. “It meant a lot to me when he bought it for me because it’d been years upon years upon years since I’ve wanted a bike.”
Van Dusen’s dad died unexpectedly in August. The bike was the last gift he’d given him. Three weeks ago, in late October, it was stolen from outside his home.
“I mean it's tough,” said Van Dusen. “It’s tougher not having my father here ‘cause I usually always ride my bike over there and talk to him everyday, just to calm myself down. And not having him here anymore, kind of upsets me.”
Van Dusen said the morning he realized the bike was stolen he thought it was a dream. He closed his eyes, opened them again and it was still gone. He left it unchained, leaning against the house just a few days prior.
"When we finally got it he always told me ‘always keep it locked up, always keep it locked up'," said Van Dusen. "I usually do. But, 'cause lately I lived on a road where we don’t see a lot of people, I figured a few days won’t hurt it unlocked."
But someone took it, he said. Van Dusen immediately called the police and filed a report. He also posted pictures of it online and started asking people if they’d seen it. So far, nothing's turned up.
“It made me very upset because this is my only transportation around town,” said Van Dusen. “I don’t have money to go pay on a car and insurance and all that. So I figured a bike could get me around like every other kid does.”
Van Dusen turned 18 in early October and since then he has been looking for a job. However it’s hard getting to and from interviews. He’s staying with his girlfriend’s family and uses their bike when he needs to. But he’d like his own back.
“It’d mean a lot to get my bike back to me ‘cause that’s the only thing that my dad has been able to actually buy for me,” said Van Dusen. “He’s no longer with me anymore. So it just would mean a lot if I had something back that he got me.”