October 23, 2021

Community comes to aid of man after bike is stolen

Generosity fills void

Travis Dunn/contributing photographer

Dan Camp displays the e-bike given to him by Chris Zacharias of the town of Maine. Zacharias gave Camp the bike after Camp’s black-and-yellow Pride-1 electric bicycle was stolen May 15 from outside the Cortland County Office Building.

Dan Camp’s e-bike may never be found — police haven’t tracked it down so far — but Camp is back on the road again, thanks to support from the community.

Camp’s black-and-yellow Pride-1 electric bicycle was stolen May 15 from outside the Cortland County Office Building at 60 Central Ave. in Cortland while Camp was inside playing pickleball. When Camp left the gym, he discovered his bike was gone. Camp, who has early onset Alzheimer’s, thought he locked it, but he may have forgotten.

After the Cortland Standard reported on the theft of his $1,000 bike, the Camp family started getting offers of help. Camp’s sister set up a GoFundMe page, which quickly drew responses and donations.

Friends who Camp hadn’t heard from in years got in touch, and strangers he’d never met offered money to help him to buy a new bike. “We’ve just been amazed at the outreach,” said Joyce Camp, Dan’s mother.

In short order, Camp’s GoFundMe page brought in more than enough to replace his bike. The goal was $1,100, but the donation page, set up on June 1, raised $1,179 in 11 days from 25 people.

While this was happening, another bike showed up.

Chris Zacharias of the town of Maine got in touch with one of Camp’s friends, and one day he arrived at the Camp’s house with a barely used e-bike.

Zacharias gave it to him as a loaner, or to keep if he preferred.

Then it turns out a third donation was also in the works: Rachel Anderson with Access to Independence, a nonprofit that advocates for people with disabilities, read about Camp, and was prepared to offer $1,000 to help him buy a new bike with an accessible technology grant.

Right now, Camp and his family are trying to make up their minds what to do — keep the bike Zacharias gave him, or buy a new one with the GoFundMe money.

“The main thing that’s happening through all of this is just the wonderful response,” Joyce Camp said. His bike is crucial for his independence.

Dan Camp also has aphasia, a condition that affects his ability to communicate, but keeping busy and staying social are ways to help him cope with his health problems, she said. In addition to playing pickleball regularly, he also volunteers as a dishwasher at Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen, and he loves bowling every Friday.

“The main thing that has helped him is socialization,” Joyce Camp said.

Things are looking up now that he has new wheels, Dan Camp said. And he’s got plenty to look forward to this summer — one of this daughters, Emily, is expecting, and the other, Elizabeth, will be married July 14 in Homer.

“So we’re looking to the future,” Joyce Camp said.