CLEVELAND - Alex Howe was nearly driven to tears by the outpouring of holiday spirit shown to him by 5 On Your Side viewers across northeast Ohio.
Dozens responded, willing to donate or buy the autistic Cleveland man a new mountain bike, after Howe reported his old bike was hit by a Cleveland school bus on Nov. 13.
NewsChannel5 first reported on the alleged incident back on Dec. 3 . Howe claimed he was hit by the bus at the intersection of Fulton and Denison Avenue. Howe was uninjured, however his main form of transportation was left unusable, the bike's frame badly bent.
Howe, 26, can't drive a car, is on SSI, and must now ride RTA to get from place to place.
Dozens of readers and viewers on the NewsChannel5 Facebook page responded to our 5 On Your Side story, many wanting to donate or buy a new bike for Howe.
Howe was overwhelmed by the social media support.
"Facebook and Twitter and all the support and everything -- it has been very good," said Howe with a grin. "It's breathtaking. I'm glad to see that there's some people out there to help me out. There's a lot of people. There's a lot."
Viewers also contacted NewsChannel5 via Twitter, email and by telephone.
Sam and Kathy Subity of Green donated their son's mountain bike to Howe. They took the bike to Howe's doorstep after seeing the 5 On Your Side report.
The Subitys lost their son Joe to cancer in April, and his bike was still parked in their garage.
Sam Subity had tears in eyes as he explained how he believes Howe has the same spirit for life as the son he lost.
"It just reminded me of him," said Subity. "I talked to my wife and I said 'Let's do this, let's give him the bike.'" I know my son would have loved to do this for him."
Kathy Subity clutched a picture of her late son as she hugged Howe, giving him the custom 1-year-old mountain bike.
"We really feel like it was a God wink," said Subity. "We were looking for something special to do for our son, to celebrate his memory at Christmas time, and then we saw your story about Alex, and he just touched our hearts so much."
Ron Manzo of Cleveland also contacted NewsChannel5, and donated money to Howe so he could buy a new bike or a new bike helmet.
"When I saw Alex, he lost his bike, he had no way to get around and nobody cared," explained Manzo.
The Cleveland Metropolitan School District is still investigating the incident.
Colette Shank of Cleveland donated two mountain bikes in response to Howe's story. Shank's bikes, along with others, and a series of monetary donations are being turned over the Harbor Light Homeless Family Shelter at the Greater Cleveland Salvation Army.
Shelter Director Beau Hill explained that bikes provide key transportation for the homeless, even during the winter.
Anyone interested in making a difference in the lives of homeless families this holiday season can make to donations via the Salvation Army website .
Meanwhile, Howe could only sigh with joy, a big smile on this face, caused by the support from so many northeast Ohio residents.
"Oh I'm surprised, I don't know what to say," expressed Howe. "Thank you so much, thank you so much."