There's nothing quite like a boy's love for his bike.
So when 10-year-old Culley Larson's treasured BMX dirt bike was stolen Aug. 13 out of the garage of his parent's home in Albert Lea, Minn., Culley took action, the old-fashioned way.
He grabbed a pen and paper and, with the help of his mom, Vicki Larson, penned a touching letter to the editor of his local newspaper, the Albert Lea Tribune.
The headline of the letter was "Please return my stolen dirt bike."
Here's Culley, in his own words.
Hello, my name is Culley Larson, and I am 10 years old and live in Albert Lea. This past Saturday someone stole my BMX bike out of my parents' garage. I love this town, and I am sad that people steal other kids' bikes. This is something I do not understand.
I am writing this letter to ask for your help. If you have kids, look to see if you have a bike at your house that does not belong to you. Parents, please ask your kids if any of their friends have a new bike lately? If you do not have kids, be on a lookout for anyone who has gotten a new bike the past couple of days. If you see the bike, call the police. If you have the bike, please bring it back.
I am willing to use some of my own money that I have saved as a reward to get my bike back. I know other kids get their bikes stolen. I have read it myself in the newspaper. I am hoping my letter will not only help me, but maybe help other kids also get their bikes back. I hope 10 other kids also get their bikes back. If they do we can have a celebration and call it "get your bike back day." It would be the best day ever!
A kid getting their bike stolen is like a grown up getting their car stolen. My bike is a Haro Pro Race bike with a black frame and white seat and white handle bars. My parents take me to Mankato every Wednesday to race on a dirt trail. This bike is very specific to the sport and has special tires. This is my summer sport, and I cannot race the track on my legs. I need my bike.
I have said a little prayer for my bike. I hope God is listening. I also asked God to help someone to make the right decision. I love my God, I love my family, I love my bike.
After Tim Engstrom, the managing editor of the Albert Lea Tribune, got a call from Culley's mom asking him to please take the letter seriously, he published it Aug. 16 at the top of the paper's opinion page.
"She said it was really important to him," Engstrom told women's website Yahoo Shine, one of the first outlets to republish Culley's letter. "At first you think it's an ordinary bike being stolen and then you realize this is the kid's passion— his parents take him every Wednesday about an hour from home to ride this bike in a certain area. As a fellow bicyclist, I could relate to the letter."
Boy's Plea Goes Viral
The Larsons also filed a police report the day the bike was stolen. One week later, authorities currently have no leads in the case.
But after the Tribune, a small paper for the 18,000 residents of the Minneapolis suburb the Larsons call home, published Culley's letter, they received hundreds of letters and comments from people offering to assist Larson, including money to replace the bike.
And now, thanks to the Internet and the authenticity of his words, Culley's plea has taken on a life of its own.