INWOOD, W.Va. — Musselman High School senior Malcolm Gaskins rides his bike to school every day, but on the first day of school when he found himself on the side of the road, it was a stranger’s act of kindness that carried him the rest of the way.
Early Monday morning, when Chris Rouse stopped at the Sheetz off Tabler Station Road for a drink, he saw Gaskins’ bike spin out of control. After witnessing Gaskins’ bike break down, Rouse said he felt compelled to help him.
“Somebody that young out that early in the morning, I assumed, must be trying to better themselves. I didn’t know if he was going to work or school, but when I picked him up he told me he was going to Musselman High School,” he said.
When Rouse dropped Gaskins off in front of the school, Gaskins offered to pay Rouse gas money, but Rouse declined.
“After that, I called Deputy Carroll and asked him if he could help me find Gaskins, because I didn’t know his name and I wanted to help,” he said.
Musselman High resource officer, Deputy Tommy Carroll, a good friend of Rouse, said after hearing what happened with Gaskins’ bike, he too wanted to help.
“Chris gave me a clothing description, because he didn’t know Malcolm’s name. Chris’ niece then took a picture of Malcolm, ironically they were in the same class. She texted Chris the pic matching the clothing description, which he then forwarded to me, and I went through the yearbook to match the student with the photo,” Carroll said.
Musselman High School assistant principal Jason Kamlowsky spoke highly of Gaskins, and said he was a well-deserving recipient of such a random act of kindness.
“He’s a really nice kid, who flies under the radar, he doesn’t cause problems, and the fact that he makes such an effort to come to school every day when his bike is his main mode of transportation,” he said. “This could not have happened to a more deserving kid. He rides his bike to school in the rain, sleet, and snow and his attendance is outstanding.”
“Malcolm’s a super nice kid. He works at Sheetz and he rides his bike to school everyday. I think that shows what kind of character he is,” Deputy Caroll added.
Gaskins said he’s still in awe of Rouse’s generosity and said that first day at school will be something he will never forget.
“My bike completely fell apart and I thought, ‘well this is gonna be a great first day,’ and then next thing I know this guy pulls over and gives me a lift to school. Later that day, Deputy Caroll and Mr. Kamlowsky pulled me out of class and took me out to the parking lot where Mr. Rouse was waiting with a new mountain bike in the bed of his pick up,” Gaskins said.
Adding when he saw Rouse had bought him a new bike, he nearly broke down in tears.
“I went through six bikes this summer, because someone kept popping my tires. When my bike broke down on the way to school, I thought I was going to spend $200 out of my paycheck to replace it,” he said.
“So I’m sitting there wanting to cry, because for somebody to go out of there way to do that for a stranger was incredibly touching”, he said.
Kamlowsky said, Gaskins had told him he had been working to save up for a car.
When Rouse was asked why he went out of his way to purchase Gaskins a new bike, he said after meeting him, he just wanted to help.
“I figured a little act of kindness and pay it forward,” Rouse said. “Just the little things can really help out a person in a bad situation.”
Staff writer Madelyn Dwyer can be reached at 304-263-8931 ext. 215 or twitter.com/mdwyerJN.