Teen given bike for travel to meetings with tutor

- While many children enjoy summer vacation at the park or the pool, a Sarasota County teen spends hours walking to and from the library.

Eric Silva-Gomez does a lot of walking every day, in the hot Florida sun.

"I walk to school... I walk about a mile," he said.

But Eric's walks didn't end when school let out for the summer. They actually got longer. Eric meets with a tutor almost every day. His goal is to get into an Ivy League school.

"It is very tiring," he said.

Some days, Eric said, the heat was too much. His walk to the downtown library was about three miles from home. He was sometimes forced to skip meetings with his tutor.

"I told [my tutor] I needed a bike so I can be there faster, and I can take stress off my mom's shoulders," Eric said.

His tutor knew how important Eric's goals were to him, so she went to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office for help - and they came through in a big way.

Charles Hampton is and officer in the sheriff's office property and evidence department. He and his co-workers searched through dozens of abandoned bikes and found the perfect one.

"Here is a kid, it's 95° and he has to walk to the library in the summer to study. This story really touched my heart," Hampton said.

They waited the standard 90 days, to make sure the bike's owner didn't turn up. On day 91, Eric was given the bike.

"Every day, we were just checking off the calendar and just hoping, 'is that next phone call going to be the caller of the bike?'" Hampton recalled.

Now, Eric has his bike, but more importantly to him, he has an easier path to his education and his dreams.

He said the gift motivates him to work harder so he can one day help change someone else's life for the better.

"It makes me feel like, when I grow older and I become successful, as I want to be, I want to give back to my community," Eric said. 

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