A town comes together

Methodists, others help buy new trike for woman with cerebral palsy after hers is stolen

By the Rev. Jamie McDowell

Being a working single mom of three in a small town is hard. Throw in that one child is 36, has survived a kidney transplant and has cerebral palsy and other medical conditions makes it really hard. Now throw in the theft of a treasured three-wheeled trike and a worldwide pandemic that puts this mother unemployed.

This would be enough to break most people—I said, “Most people.” It did not break Karen Marcengill Tompkins.

Tompkins has a strong faith in God. She can often be found at a weekly prayer meeting held on Tuesday mornings in town. She is known to go above and beyond for everyone she encounters.

Tompkins’ daughter, Lori, used to watch her older brother and sister ride their bikes with hopeful anticipation. Because of her medical conditions, she could not participate in the same activities. Five years ago, Tompkins, who works at a local restaurant, took a chance and purchased Lori a three-wheel trike for Christmas. The chance paid off.

Lori was not only able to ride the trike, but she eventually also started delivering messages between Karen and her brother, who lived just a short distance down the road. Lori developed a sense of importance being entrusted to carry these valuable words between her mom and uncle.

On March 27, with the coronavirus pandemic gaining national attention, Lori’s three-wheeled trike was stolen from their home, where it had been chained and locked. Not long after, Tompkins found herself applying for unemployment because of the pandemic.

Buying a new trike was not a financial option.

Tompkins posted the information on Facebook to make her friends and family aware of the situation. Her post woke up a small Upstate town, including United Methodists and many other people of faith across the community. A local Facebook group dedicated to uplifting the town shared the information that evening, along with a cry to help find or replace the trike. Yousef’s Kitchen, a local restaurant, agreed to be a collection point. Another friend started a Go Fund Me page to replace the stolen trike.

By 7 p.m. the day after the trike was stolen, more than enough money had been raised to replace it. The Go Fund Me page returned all donations, as the goal was not only met, but exceeded the need to replace the trike. A new trike was ordered with the hopes to have the townspeople be there when it was presented to Lori.

Unfortunately, with the pandemic and the subsequent stay at home orders, a large gathering would not be possible. But on April 9, a brand-new trike was delivered to Lori.

This small act of kindness affirmed to one of God’s special children that there is still good in the world—and affirmed it to her daughter, as well.

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