When Alan Taikato heads into Waihi tomorrow to pay his bills and do his weekly shopping, he'll be riding a new electric bike rather than hobbling along the road with his thumb out.
The Athenree ACC beneficiary was given the bike after concerned local Tee Carroll publicised his plight through the Bay of Plenty Times.
"I'm over the moon," a beaming Mr Taikato said yesterday. "I freaked when I saw the bike. My dream came true."
The 43-year-old had been forced to hitch-hike for months after a thief sneaked into his shed and stole the bicycle that he had been using for the 36km return journey.
Mr Taikato said the new bike would make a big difference to his life.
"The independence I've gained is massive. I don't have to rely on anybody and I don't put hassle on anybody else."
The right side of Mr Taikato's body has been damaged since a car crash more than 10 years ago. He's a slow talker and an awkward walker, and his right arm and leg are twisted.
Locals know Mr Taikato and usually pick him up when they see him, but he is wary of hitching on State Highway 2 and traffic is light on the back road to Waihi.
The Escape 26 Hard Tail electric bike was donated by Waihi Beach's Steve Harries, the owner of online seller Escape Bikes. It retails for $2000, has a top speed of 25km/h and a range of 50km to 60km.
"I heard about Alan and thought we could help out," Mr Harries said. "He needed it more than I did."
Mrs Carroll said she was "amazed and humbled" by all the people who had offered support.
Apart from the bike donation, a Waihi cycle group was helping to source items to kit out the bike and a Katikati club had offered to build a ramp up to Mr Taikato's house so he could store his bike safely inside.
Locals have also been donating cash through Waihi Beach Physiotherapy to buy accessories including gloves, racks and panniers.
Physio owner Liz Garmey said there had been a lot of talk on social media about Mr Taikato's situation.
Apart from his weekly Waihi visits, Mr Taikato plans to use his bike to help get to Matakana Island to see family.
"I haven't been able to visit them for a long time."
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