TILTON -- When Bill Wolf let his cat out the morning of New Year's Day, he discovered his garage door open and his bicycle stolen.
However, it wasn't any normal bike that was stolen out of his garage. It was an AmTryke: a three-wheeled, one-gear tricycle designed for the disabled and others in need of physical therapy.
"Whoever took that bike, they got the surprise of their life," Wolf said. "It's not an easy ride."
Wolf was presented the bike this past November from the Danville AMBUCS during a chili lunch with the American Legion post. The 65-year-old Navy veteran moved to Tilton from Champaign five years ago to be closer to his job.
To say that Wolf was happy with the bike would be an understatement. He once rode it all the way to Georgetown and back from his home in Tilton, a distance of 18 miles round trip.
"I'm trying to ride it to strengthen my knees," Wolfe said.
What the bike really offered Wolf was the ability to exercise and lose enough weight to prepare for a knee replacement surgery.
"It's a low-impact aerobic workout, and it doesn't put the pressure on my legs that walking does," Wolf said.
When Diane Carlton, AmTryke chairperson for Danville AMBUCS, found that Wolf's bike went missing, she took to Facebook for help. After posting pictures of the bike and 21,000 views later, it was recovered not far from Wolf's home in a wooded area.
"We had responses immediately," Carlton said.
On Monday, Tilton police returned the bike to the Carlton, who planned to refurbish the cycle for its next recipient.
According to Tilton Police Chief Steve Cornett, someone spotted it off the edge of Highland Boulevard and called it in.
Before the bike was even recovered, one local business owner had already cut a check to pay for Wolf's replacement. That check came from Heather and Chris Dukes, owners of Anytime Fitness in Tilton, according to Carlton.
Wolf didn't learn of the Danville AMBUCS program until he noticed one of his neighbors riding the same bike model down his street.
According to Carlton, Danville AMBUCS is part of a national organization that helps people with disabilities become more mobile or independent. Therapy equipment such as the AmTryke is paid for via fundraisers and donations.
"We would like to have more veterans that could benefit from them," Carlton said.
For now, Wolf's awaiting the replacement AmTryke, already on order by Carlton, and is happy he can get back to his therapy program.
"Maybe by the end of the summer I can get my knees replaced and get back to living a normal life," Wolf said.