Daniel Pugh, 18, is all smiles after getting a new bike. The Marble Falls High School student’s previous bike was stolen, leaving him without a sense of freedom. But friends set up a Go Fund Me campaign, and within a matter of hours, folks donated enough to not only replace Daniel’s bike but also buy a second one for one of his friends. Courtesy photo
DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR
MARBLE FALLS — Daniel Pugh is known around school and the community for his loquacious nature. At 18, he loves to talk and visit with people. But a couple of weeks ago, Pugh’s outgoing personality turned a little quiet.
“It’s just not like him to be quiet like that,” said his mother, Patty Pugh. At the heart of his withdrawal was his missing bike — or more precisely, his stolen adult-sized trike.
Patty locked up the trike at the CorWorth building on Colt Circle. She tucked it under a tarp inside a locked fence and then put a separate lock on the trike. Daniel enjoyed riding the trike around the Marble Falls Independent School District central office area, where it is relatively easy pedaling and safe.
One night, however, someone broke into the fenced-in area, got the lock off the trike and stole it.
“It had all these kid’s toys in it,” Patty said. “I can’t believe somebody would do that.”
While the loss of a bike isn’t good, this hit Daniel particularly hard. As a Down Syndrome youth, Daniel can’t drive a car. And when his older siblings, Laura and Eddie, earned their driver’s licenses, he could only watch as they got behind the wheel.
One of Patty’s friends, however, offered him an adult-size tricycle about two years ago. Since he couldn’t ride a bicycle, maybe he could ride the trike.
But Patty admitted she had her doubts.
“I really didn’t know if he could pedal it,” she said.
But Daniel would get on the trike and work at it. Even if he became a little frustrated, he kept working at it.
Soon, Daniel was pedaling all around.
“When that bike came along, it was his independence,” Patty said.
His brother, Eddie, would wash it and check it over for Daniel. Then Daniel would wax it and get it looking real sharp.
But then it was gone.
“I just couldn’t believe somebody would do that,” Patty said.
For a few days after the trike was stolen, Daniel became quieter. He became a bit withdrawn.
He just wasn’t Daniel.
A couple of Patty’s friends, Brandie Jordan and Rachel Hall, recommended she start an online Go Fund Me campaign to raise money for a new trike, but Patty resisted. She didn’t like the idea of asking people for money.
So Brandie and Rachel took it upon themselves. Fifteen hours after setting up the fund, people donated not just enough money for a new trike for Daniel, but more. When Brandie and Rachel asked Patty what she wanted to do with the extra money, she could only think of one thing: Spend it on someone else.
Patty and Daniel used the money to buy one of his friends, Tanner Worthing, a trike as well.
“We just wanted to pay it forward,” Patty said. Even when Daniel got the new trike, he was a bit hesitant. He kept asking if it was his, just to make sure. And Patty’s learned a little bit about people — she doesn’t leave the trike at CorWorth but keeps it locked up at home when Daniel’s not out riding it.
Part of her is disappointed that someone would steal Daniel’s trike, but then she witnessed the outpouring of love and support for her son as well.
“I’m just so thankful to everybody who helped out,” Patty said. “He’s just so loved in this community.”
On the back of the trike hangs a little license plate that reads, “I Am Loved.”