ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- His story has captured the hearts of many here on the First Coast. Will Barkoskie, 7, has Muscular Dystrophy and was in need of a special bike.
Just in time for St. Patrick's Day, his new green bike arrived at his doorstep and we were there as he tried it out for the first time.
The smile on Will Barkoskie's face said it all.
Three wheels are helping give this 7-year-old more independence and the chance to ride a bike with his sister.
Will's family reached out to First Coast News two weeks ago hoping to garner support in the form of votes so he could win the Great Bike Giveway Contest. He didn't get enough vote, but what his family did get they say is priceless.
"The support from the community, the compassion, the encouragement, it has filled our hearts," said Blake Barkoskie, Will's mother.
MasterCraft Builder Group stepped in and purchased Will a specialized Rifton bike, just like the one he uses at Timberlin Creek Elementary School, that he can pedal all by himself.
Chris Shee delivered the bike to Will's doorstep Tuesday.
"Will is challenged with having Muscular Dystrophy and not having strength in his legs that most children do so giving him this opportunity to have his own bicycle, be able to ride his bike with his friends with his sister which he has never been able to do. It's so heartwarming, and it's a small thing we take for granted with our own children," said Shee.
As Will's disease progresses walking is becoming more difficult. His dad says this new bike means getting to the bus stop will be a lot easier.
"It's only a short walk three or four houses down, but for him it's a constant struggle and so having the bike now he can get out and get to the bus stop on time and be there with the kids when the bus arrives and not have to worry about being late or being assisted down there. He can do it on his own just like all of the other kids can," said Bill Barkoskie.
While Will has his new bike his parents are still on a mission to help the other children with special needs on the First Coast who were entered in the Great Bike Giveaway Contest.
"The community support just caused us to rally our flags so we are on a mission to get these other kids a bike. Several other organizations and companies have stepped forward but we still have 4 more children who need bikes. These are really specialized bikes. Most of the children are non-ambulatory so it's a bike that allows them to ride in tandem with another driver," said Blake Barkoskie, Will's mother.
Will's parents hope sharing their son's excitement will inspire others to open their hearts to help the children still in need of expensive bikes.
Thanks to the generosity of First Coast News viewers several other children with special needs will soon be getting new bikes.
Four children who were in the contest still need a Duet bike which costs $5000 a piece.
The Northest Florida Builder's Charitable Foundation has posted a link on its website where you can make a tax
deductible donation until April first. http://www.nefba.com/