Early this semester, a young man near the OCCC Coffee Shop was looking for directions when Campus Police Lt. Daniel Piazza happened along. The officer said the man was very polite and happy to be on campus. After Piazza gave him directions, the man shook his hand and walked away.
Something made the young man turn around, shake Piazza’s hand again and thank him for being at OCCC.
“You don’t have to thank me for being here,” the officer told him. “We’re glad you’re here.”
Piazza said he noticed the man was quite sweaty on that warm August day, so he asked him where he was coming from and how he got to the college.
The student told him he had walked from his home.
Piazza said his home was about 3.5 miles from the school, a walk that took the student about an hour and a half each day. The student said he would be at the college four days a week.
The student then told Piazza that he owned a bicycle, but was not riding it because it needed new tires, brakes and maintenance.
“At first I thought maybe we could fix his bike but after he kept telling me all the problems it had I thought, ‘we’ll just buy him a bike.’”
Piazza got the man’s name and information.
“When you look at [him] and you see just how hard he is trying to be here and how thankful he was for being here … ,” Piazza said. “I talked to a couple of guys and they were for it.”
With the help of OCCC Campus Police Sgt. Jeremy Bohannon and Sgt. Bruce Funderburk, Piazza was able to help the young man.
“We got him a bike, got him a helmet, got him some stuff to chain it up. A few little odds and ends like that,” Piazza said.
Within a week of their first meeting, Piazza said, the officers called the student to the campus police department office to give him the bike.
He said the student was speechless and possibly a little overwhelmed.
Piazza said the student did take the bike and is using it.
“It’s a happy ending,” he said.
Piazza said he does not like talking about the charitable act.
“We really didn’t do it for any type of recognition because if you do it for recognition you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.
“That’s why we do things like that and we don’t say anything … . You feel for people and that’s why you help them out.”
The Pioneer was not able to contact the young man. Piazza said that due to unfortunate circumstances, the student has since had to withdrawal from the courses he was taking at the college.