Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times A huge smile splits Karina Ballesteros’ face as she mounts her new bike for the first time in the Amherst police station lobby.
Karina Ballesteros thought she was going to the Amherst police station Friday to help her mom “fill out some paperwork.”
When she got there, the six-year-old found Sgt. Troy Donaldson holding a brand new pink-and-purple 20-inch bicycle with her name on it courtesy of AAA.
Her face lit up.
Within minutes, the Powers Elementary student was pedaling around the police parking lot as Donaldson grinned nearby.
He wrote Ballesteros a “ticket” June 5 when she was spotted riding with her bike helmet on: “I remember she was pedaling around. Her helmet was on the back of her head,” he recalled. “You could tell she was nervous. Her grandpa said she had a helmet and I said, ‘I know. That’s why I’m here.’”
Every year, Amherst police write AAA club tickets for free ice cream cones to dozens of children they spot cycling safely. It’s a way to reward good behavior, said Sgt. Michael Murphy.
Lori Cook, safety advisor for AAA East Central, drew Ballesteros’ name from a pool of 60 or so she received from officers across 13 counties in June.
She was there Friday to help Donaldson surprise the cute little girl with not only the bike, but a new helmet, a coloring book, and some crayons.
“She deserves it,” said Karina’s mother, Gloria Ballesteros. “She does so well at school and everything. She’s such a good girl.”
Mastering the bike in minutes, Karina sped off.
“Thank you for wearing your helmet, sweetie,” Donaldson called.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.