Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office fulfilling Christmas wish for teen with special needs

Image courtesy of WAVY

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Those who’ve met 15-year-old Zach Jefferson say his face just lights up when he sees a bike.  So when the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office heard about his Christmas wish, they got involved.

About five years ago, Deputy Ashley Swenson met Denise Jefferson and her son Zach.

“He is so joyful,” said Deputy Swenson.  “The moment he sees you he just has to run up and give you the biggest hug ever.”

She met the Jeffersons when looking for a daycare; Jefferson runs one out of her home.

Swenson learned that Zach wanted a bike for Christmas, but that’s easier said than done.

“I can go out and buy a bicycle for $100 for my children, but $2000 is not affordable for anyone,” Swenson said.

Zach has Down syndrome, autism, type-1 diabetes and he’s non-verbal, so a regular bike wouldn’t work.

“He doesn’t understand the dangers of the road, so we need the two-seater tricycle so that his mother can have control over the bike and he can still have that enjoyment,” said Swenson.

Zach’s mother says she knows this bike means more time outside, but it will be worth it when her son hits the road.

Jefferson said, “I was shocked at first when they approached me to actually want to do it. I was just amazed at how quickly the bike was finished, it was only a couple of days and it was fully funded. I was totally amazed.”

It only took five days to raise the $2,000 — and then some.

“To see that complete strangers are willing to help support this cause for this child that they don’t even know is amazing,” Swenson said.

The extra money is going to a local autism organization, continuing Swenson’s mission to show that everyone deserves a chance to be a kid.

Swenson said, “Just because he was gifted with an extra chromosome doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be gifted with the same opportunities as every other child.”

The bike is a custom order, so it takes some time to make.  They’re hoping it comes in time for Christmas.

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