A Victoria mom says she’s blown away by the community support after locals went above and beyond this week in the successful search of a stolen bike trailer.
On Tuesday, May 3rd, Kerry Vandendriessche filed a police report and took to social media pleading for help, after thieves stole her disabled son’s trailer from a parking garage along Gorge Street East, near Galloping Goose Trail.
Vandendriessche locked it up, but they still managed to snatch the blue and yellow trailer.
“I bought it very specifically because my son is 8-years-old and has a condition called hypotonia—he has down syndrome,” she told Victoria Buzz.
The single mom of two and avid cyclist says she moved her family to Victoria from Calgary, Alberta over a year ago to flee an abusive relationship and start fresh.
According to Vandendriessche, the bike trailer makes getting out and getting active more accessible and fun, whether as a mode of transportation to get to school or for running errands.
It’s a unique trailer that can carry her son for years to come, big enough to haul someone standing at 5’8″ and weighing up to 150 pounds—but it also came with a hefty price tag, costing around $1,500 brand new.
“I spent so much time researching this item, working it into our lifestyle here. To have it taken was very disappointing and very menacing,” said Vandendriessche.
“It was aggravating.”
Vandendriessche got the word out via Twitter and Facebook and was quickly met by a plethora of responses from the community, with people eager to help out by spreading the word.
“It’s such a unique and ridiculous thing, and I’m just so happy that everybody was looking for the damn thing. Even the crossing guards at school were looking for it.”
“We’re just so moved and so touched.”
In the event the trailer was gone for good, a GoFundMe was launched, with Vandendriessche hoping to raise $1,600 to cover the cost of a new one plus the required locks to keep it secure.
But donors exceeded that goal with close to $2,100 raised—ushering in a flood of emotions for Vandendriessche.
“Just the outpouring of support was insane. I’ve never experienced anything like that. Just the activity, care, and awareness in this city completely surprised me and blew me away.”
By Friday morning, Vandendriessche got a knock on her door. Her neighbour said he found the trailer down a hidden back staircase within their apartment complex.
HOLY GUACAMOLE! My bike trailer was found!! Thank you #yyjbike @vicpdcanada #yyj @globalnews @CTVNews @Adam_Stirling Next I will give it a good wash and inspect for damage. If all is well I can donate the GoFundMe. Louis is going to be so excited! 💛💙
— @hostilebear (@hostilebear) May 6, 2022
“I think the thieves stashed it and then tried to work on removing the bike locks and couldn’t, and dragged it back and dropped it down this seldom-used staircase,” said Vandendriessche.
Upon the trailer’s return, she plans to donate the GoFundMe funds to the Victoria Women’s Transition Society. That’s because it’s an organization that hits close to home.
“The Women’s Transition House, a local shelter, has been very helpful to my little family,” explained Vandendriessche.
“I think if we can put some money into the hands of women escaping domestic abuse, moms know what to do. Mom’s always got the right idea; they just need a little bit of pick me up.”
While the situation was initially unfortunate, the outcome has been positive for Vandendriessche, who says it changed her outlook on the place she now calls home.
“I didn’t have a bad impression of Victoria, but we moved during the pandemic when everyone was trapped inside their world and not a lot of activity, so I felt very lonely moving here,” she added.
“This has just opened up my eyes that we’ve made a good decision moving here and that we’re going to be loved here.”
“I feel really good about that.”