Del Anderson of Brainerd suffered a stroke 10 years ago that left him unable to communicate, along with other physical limitations. He has since been unable to drive, but enjoys the freedom he has when he's able to ride his bicycle around town.
His bicycle, said his wife Linda, allowed her husband, the former business manager at Brainerd Community College and a former area insurance salesman, to regain a bit of his independence. She estimated Del must bike at least 10 miles a day around town during the summer months. His bicycle allowed him to work part time at Productive Alternatives.
His stroke left his right hand partially paralyzed, which made it difficult for Del to use his bike chain to lock up his bike. As a result, his bike was stolen from his apartment complex a year ago. But for some reason the bike, a green men's Murray bicycle, was returned a few days later.
But thieves once again took his bike in early August while Del spent a half hour inside the Brainerd Moose Club watching the men play cards. This time his bike was not returned. Linda often drove around town searching empty lots and wooded areas in an attempt to spot Del's stolen bike.
In an Aug. 13 column, Linda asked readers to help her find Del's bike. But readers did better than that.
More than 12 people offered to give Del a bicycle they had or volunteered to buy him a new bike, she said. One generous woman wanted to buy Del a new bike because when she was 15 her father suffered a similar stroke. Someone gave her father a bicycle and she remembered how special that bike was to her father. She told Linda she wanted to return the favor to Del. Linda said she was overwhelmed at the number of the strangers who called her wanting to donate a bike for her husband.
Soon after Ray Lofgren finished reading his Aug. 13 Brainerd Dispatch, he picked up the phone and called the Andersons to donate a bicycle he had to Del. Lofgren, a boiler tender at Potlatch, walked the five-speed bike over to the Anderson's apartment complex that night. Del has been riding Lofgren's bike ever since.
"I just thought it would be nice for them to know there are good people and not just bad people in the area," said Lofgren. "Any time you give, I feel you get more back."
"It's a nice bike and Del likes it real well," said Linda. "He's very happy. He scoots around town all the time."
Del, said his wife, now locks his bicycle up every time.
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