WEST WARWICK — Jim Plummer Jr. had just gotten started raising funds for pediatric cancer research through the Great Cycle Challenge USA when he got a nasty surprise late last week: his bike, an integral component of his mission, had been stolen.
“I was crushed,” Plummer said about leaving his home Friday morning to find his bike missing. “That was my vehicle to fundraise.”
The month-long fundraiser, which kicked off last Tuesday and runs through September, is held across the country annually to benefit the Children’s Cancer Research Fund. Plummer had checked off only a couple of rides when the bike he’d relied on to meet his 500-mile goal was taken from outside of Clyde Tower.
But despite the unfortunate circumstance, Plummer is now back on track and feeling optimistic, thanks to the generosity he’s been shown over the last few days.
“It’s been overwhelming,” Plummer said Tuesday of the community support. “I have no words for it.”
When he returned home from a 20-mile ride last Thursday, Plummer put his bike in the rack outside the building. He left it overnight, assuming it would be safe.
“Then Friday morning I went out to check on it, and it was gone,” he said.
Footage from security cameras outside Plummer's building had shown a male subject taking the bike from the rack at around 9 a.m. and riding it around the parking lot before leaving with it.
The bike ended up being found by a friend Wednesday morning on the bike path. Before that, however, Plummer took to social media Friday to share what had happened.
“Before the day was over I had offers of three bikes from different people,” said Plummer, who's been borrowing a friend’s Trek hybrid bike to continue toward his goal. “It’s been amazing.”
And before long, he’ll have his own brand-new bike to wrap up the cycle challenge with.
On top of all the bicycle offers, someone Plummer had never even met started a fundraiser via Facebook to raise money for him to get a new bike. Since Saturday, more than $1,200 has been raised for Plummer’s new bicycle.
“It’s been up-and-down, emotionally,” said Plummer, who added that he plans to use the proceeds from that fundraiser to get a Trek Domane road bike. “It went from tears of sadness to tears of joy. People have been great.”
Plummer bought the bike that was stolen a few years ago off of Facebook for $50. It’s been reported stolen to the police, and Plummer said that if it does ever turn up then he’ll hold onto it as a backup.
“I got more than my use out of it,” he said of the bike, a white Giant Perigee from the ’90s.
This is the fourth consecutive year that Plummer has entered the Great Cycle Challenge USA, raising nearly $3,900 between 2017 and 2019 to support the research and development of treatments and cures for childhood cancer.
Plummer had originally set a goal this year of riding 500 miles and raising $2,000. He actually began collecting donations a little while ago, and with about three weeks to go has already raised $2,200.
He’s since increased his fundraising goal to $2,500.
“Things have worked out more than I could ever have imagined,” Plummer said. “I’m going to move on.”