Gift of a bicycle: Woman working two jobs gets surprise

Published: May. 30, 2016 at 7:44 PM CDT
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The St. Andrews Bay Center provides people with disabilities an opportunity to become independent in the community.

One local resident who's taken complete advantage of her opportunities was recently given what she calls the surprise of a lifetime.

Everyday since January, 26 year-old Joella Oelrich has been walking.

"I was probably walking a couple miles everyday from both jobs," said Oelrich.

Each morning she walks to her job at Forest Park Animal Hospital and at night to her second job at McDonald's.

Ashley Baker, an associate vet at Forest Park Animal Hospital, said, "She's a very dedicated worker. She's really good at what she does."

"I decided to work two jobs because I'm trying to get my life in order," said Oelrich. "So I thought me holding down two jobs might be a good idea."

Her strive to become independent hasn't been overlooked.

"Because she was walking so far we didn't want her to be unsafe," said Kaitlyn Anglin of the Lynn Haven Police Department. "So we decided we would try to get her some type of vehicle for her."

Forrest Park Animal Hospital partnered up with the Lynn Haven Police Department and Mike Jones to help give Oelrich a kick-start to her future with a gift of a bicycle.

"Joella thought she was in trouble because we came in and she had no idea what we were doing," said Anglin. "She didn't want to come out and see us at first we had to get her."

"They had the bike the parking lot parked by the door and I'm like, 'Oh my goodness is this for me?'" said Oelrich. "And they're like, 'Yes this is for you we got it for you.' And I was like oh my goodness."

The Lynn Haven Police Department said they feel comfortable knowing Joella has a safer way to get to work and her co-workers agree.

"It's made her life easier," said Baker. "She doesn't have to stress and worry about catching the trolley. It's just made life better for her and it gives her more independence."

Oelrich's new bicycle has all of the bells and whistles, including a hot pink helmet she picked out herself.

She's been practicing riding the bike since she said it's been a few years since she's rode one.

"I was a little bit wobbly when I first started," said Oelrich.

Oelrich said she can't say thank you enough for the opportunity to ride through life a little easier.

"She was really excited she has a million watt smile," said Anglin. "It was great to see her so excited over something we got to do."