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Community Rallies After Bike Owned by Boy With Down Syndrome Is Stolen in Logan Square

By Wren Hagge

CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago mom says she is touched by an outpouring of generosity after somebody stole a customized tricycle used by her son, who has Down syndrome.

In a Facebook post, Genie Ina Botta, mother to Benjamin, 12, revealed her frustration about the theft: "Some mean, heartless person stole my son's adult tricycle right out of our storage space in our [enclosed] condo garage."

Botta, who lives in Logan Square, tells CBS 2 she could not "keep herself from shouting" as she told family members that Benjamin's bike was gone.

Benjamin cried when he learned the bike's fate.

"The bike was customized for him because he has special needs," says Botta. "It was the only outdoor sport he enjoyed and finally mastered."

Botta immediately reported the theft to authorities, who told her "there's not much they can do" because she did not have the bike's serial number. She also reported the incident to the condo's owner and the condominium association.

Despite thousands of social media shares, nobody located Benjamin's bike.

Taking matters in their own hands, Botta and her friends launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for a replacement bike.

Within days, the campaign exceeded its goal.

Botta says she is surprised by the enthusiastic and generous response. She capped donations at $535, telling CBS 2 she "didn't feel comfortable accepting more money than that."

Botta only knows a few of the more than one dozen donors. She says most of them are kind members of the Logan Square community.

"Logan Square gets such a bad reputation, but this has really made me realize how kind and giving people can be here. It's more than I expected," says Botta.

With the money raised from the campaign, Botta hopes to order a new tricycle by this weekend.

"Benjamin says this time he wants a red one with a bell," she said.

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