VINTON, Va. – Nine-year-old Blake Hill was not afraid to show off his love for his new bicycle on Monday.
The gift was a surprise last week from Vinton police officer Brandon Alterio.
“I thought it was pretty nice,” Blake said, standing in front of his new bike.
When Hill reported his old bike stolen, Alterio searched for it until he saw Hill again a few days later.
“His friend was actually riding his own bike and I saw (Blake) just kind of walking beside him. It was there that I realized I wanted to do something for him," Alterio said.
In a way, he was paying it forward.
“When I was about his age and we first moved here, I was the only one on my block that didn’t have a bike. We came home one day and there were two brand new bikes on our front porch. We still don’t know where they came from. So I kind of related to him a little bit,” Alterio said.
Alterio bought a bike for Hill and was going to buy one for his sister, too. He learned she already had one so he got her art supplies and a $25 gift card instead.
Hill’s grandfather got emotional as he thanked Alterio.
“I was very happy about the way they went about things as far as looking for [the stolen bike]," he said. "He did a real good deed. It means a lot to me.”
“I think it’s important on both sides, for the police department and the community to talk to each other and be kind to one another," Alterio said. "There’s no better time to do that than now, in the Christmastime, and to have the Christmas spirit.”
A message that, like Hill with his new bike, the community will continue to embrace long after the holiday.