A Costa Mesa man battling cancer has got a smile back on his face after receiving a new tricycle to replace the one that had been stolen from him.
Phil Cartier, 66, has been battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer since he was diagnosed with the disease in 2016. He enjoyed using his adult tricycle for exercise. "I was getting stronger every day," he said.
But that changed when the trike was stolen in a burglary on Dec. 16 of last year.
Phil and wife Katie Cartier were forced to sell their Costa Mesa home of 20 years because of financial hardships, including mounting medical bills, and were in the process of moving when they were burglarized. They had left a storage unit outside their home, filled with several items they intended to take with them to their new house, including the tricycle.
Top news of the day
"I was just like, 'If cancer isn't enough, now we have to deal with this,'" Katie said.
After reading about the couple's troubles in a newspaper, Costa Mesa Police Department Officer Trevor Jones knew he had to do something.
"I really felt bad for them, their situation. It was really disheartening to hear that somebody going through such a tough time would have their personal belongings taken from them," Jones said.
With that in mind, Jones reached out to the Costa Mesa Police Department and their officer association, as well as The Cyclist bike shop in Costa Mesa, to get Phil a new tricycle and bring back his joy of cycling.
On Tuesday, Phil beamed as officers and shop owners gifted him his brand new trike, complete with a new lock.
"Just the general outpouring has been overwhelming to my wife and I," Phil said as he sat on his new set of wheels. "It's also just my 'get out and go,'" he said, contemplating possible trips with his dog riding on the basket affixed to the back of the trike.
He and Katie were all smiles as he test drove his new ride down the street outside the shop.
The Costa Mesa Police Department also registered the tricycle with the city so that they can track down the three-wheeler if it's ever stolen again.
Being able to help people like the Cartiers, Jones said, is what makes his job so satisfying. "It's what makes everything worth it."
Katie is now working with Hoag Hospital, where Phil is being treated, to take the tricycles that people were offering to her husband and donate them to other cancer patients.