Year in review: the compassion of a stranger puts a teenager back in the saddle

Raquel Ferreira, 15, and her mother Veronica accept Mike Murray’s new bike. Cathy Dobson

Editor’s Note: This week we’re featuring some of our favorite features for people of 2021, a reminder that even in dark times, good things happen. This one first appeared on November 4.

Cathy Dobson

The beautiful smile on Raquel Ferreira’s face says it all.

The kindness of a stranger caused her to reassess her belief that Sarnia is full of takers and thieves.

“I always thought there weren’t a lot of nice people in Sarnia,” said the 15-year-old from Great Lakes. “All we hear about is negative people. “

This turned out to be true a few weeks ago when Raquel’s bike – the one her grandmother had given her that she relied on to get everywhere – was stolen.

“I was at a friend’s birthday party and put my bike in the garden so no one would take it,” she said.

But it was stolen that night, and attempts by Raquel and his mother Veronica Ferreira to locate him were unsuccessful.

“We called the police but they didn’t come, so I filled out a report at the police station,” Veronica said.

The bike was an old beach cruiser that Raquel’s grandmother herself used as a teenager.

“She gave it to me and it was important to me,” Raquel said.

But his mother did not give up.

Veronica Ferreira sent a plea for help to a Facebook group called Stolen Bikes of Sarnia. Then she wrote a letter to the Sarnia Journal expressing her anger that bike theft is so widespread and that there is little anyone can do.

“Too much is too much. Our town needs a cleanup. Sincerely, a very angry mom bear,” she wrote.

Reader Mike Murray saw this letter and responded immediately with an offer of a new bike.

“I can’t stand to see something like this happen to a young girl,” Murray said. “I believe if you can do good then do good.”

Murray’s original plan was to deliver a refurbished bike. For years, the retired maintenance supervisor has been collecting old bikes for scrap.

“We live in a society that wastes so much,” he said. “I find them on garbage day with bad shifters or flat tires and take them home to fix them.”

This summer alone, Murray has rebuilt four rides using a collection of spare parts he keeps in the garage. He repairs them and gives them to friends, family and colleagues of his wife.

But then he decided to do something very special for Raquel.

“So I bought him a new bike,” he said. “I have standards and the rebuilt one wasn’t good enough for her.”

Veronica Ferreira said she cried upon hearing of Murray’s generosity.

“I couldn’t believe someone who didn’t know us would take the time to help us,” she said. “It’s amazing. Oh my God, how can anyone want to help so much?”

“I’m really surprised,” said Raquel, as she tried out her new Hiland mountain bike with disc brakes and 21 speeds.

“I won’t take any chances with this one,” she said. “I’ll keep it in the house and make sure it’s safe.” “

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