Man with autism stunned when community buys him a new bike

Boyd Huppert

When he's gripping the handle bars of his three-wheeled bike, one of the best parts of Ty Burch is occupied.

It’s best to wait for him to stop. That’s when Ty can free up his waving hand.

Waving and biking, Ty does both passionately.

“It's what I'm mostly good at,” Ty says of his daily rides around town.

Jenny Edwards, Ty's mom, agrees. “He loves riding his bike. He just likes to go.”

It’s why Jenny’s heart is so full. Her 20-year-old son is back on his bike for the first time in months, thanks to the community through which Ty rides and a fund named for Francis Johnson, another avid River Falls biker.

River Falls’ police chief Gordon Young can tell you all about Ty's bike woes.

“Just sitting in my office and the phone rings,” Chief Young says.

The caller, a retired police chief from another town, had seen a young man struggling, while trying to ride a broken bike.

Ty remembers that day too. “I felt I was about to tip over and fall,” he says.

The frame on Ty’s two-year-old, $1400 bike, had broken.

Ty's mom also felt her heart breaking. “Just to see him so upset,” said Jenny, knowing what the bike had meant to Ty.

After Ty was diagnosed with autism, biking became the one thing he could make his own.

“I think it's just kind of his escape from everything,” Jenny says. “I felt like I was failing as a parent because, I'm like, I need to buy a new bike, but that's a big purchase.”

Fortunately, River Falls had been down this road before.

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