Social media users help 91-year-old veteran’s family find his missing bicycle

People in other states offered to help replace bike

UNIVERSAL CITY, Texas – A 91-year old veteran in Universal City in search of a stolen bike managed to draw affection and support from thousands of people as far as Ohio and North Carolina.

Herman Gawlik still likes to get his daily exercise in the form of a bike ride. He said it was something he picked up during his military service.

“I enjoy it. It gives me a little exercise,” Gawlik said. “I even ride it to Randolph Air Force Base to do some Trade Union shopping.”

Gawlik's granddaughter, Melissa Blank, said her grandfather served his country for 20 years.

“He was in the Air Force before it was called the Air Force,” she said.

Blank said the bike ride is part of her grandfather's daily routine.

“The bike to him is everything,” she said. “It kind of gives them a little freedom, and he can do it when he wants to do it.”

When someone stole Gawlik's bike from their front porch over the weekend, the family quickly mobilized on social media to spread the word and find it. The post was shared thousands of times, and people from as far as Ohio and North Carolina wanted to help replace the bike.

Christopher Steward, a local business owner, saw the post and had seen Gawlik riding his bike before. He said he felt compelled to donate a bike he had that belonged to a deceased veteran.

“We all need to stick together and get together and watch out for our neighbors and communities,” Steward said.

The kindness moved Gawlik’s family.

“I was really shocked and kind of overwhelmed with the emotion of that. Many people were willing to support someone they didn't even know,” Blank said.

But the bike was not far. Blank said someone messaged her saying they had bought the bike and wanted to return it.

On Monday, Gawlik was back on his bike and riding it around the block.

“Welcome back, I missed it very much,” he said.

Steward said the bike that was gifted to Gawlik will now likely be donated to a veterans organization.

There is no word from Universal City police on suspect information or an arrest.

About the Authors:

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

William Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.