Metro-East News

An officer met a man who walked 6 hours a night for work. He bought him a bike.

Fairview Heights police officer donates bike to local security guard

A Fairview Heights police officer donated a bicycle to a man who was walking three hours to and from work.
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A Fairview Heights police officer donated a bicycle to a man who was walking three hours to and from work.

Officer Clay Mason is a shy kind of guy who doesn’t enjoy a whole lot of attention, but his act of kindness for a local security guard just couldn’t be ignored.

Nick Bonness works as a nighttime guard at the Stonewolf Golf Club in Fairview Heights, but he lives in Belleville. Every night he’s on the schedule, Bonness walks to work — a walk that can take him up to three hours each way. Bonness has a bike, Mason said, but it’s broken, and he doesn’t have a car.

Fairview Heights police had noticed Bonness walking along Illinois 159, a busy highway connecting Belleville to Fairview Heights. Sgt. Jeff Peel noticed Bonness walking one night during a snowstorm, and picked him up to give him a ride home, Mason said. It’s through the sergeant that Mason first learned about Bonness. Mason, a native of Paris, Ill., started at the department about three months ago after graduating from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville with his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

One night a few weeks ago, Mason saw Bonness walking as usual and decided to give him a ride home. That’s when Mason came up with a simple idea that could help Bonness get to work quicker and also stay safer.

Mason bought a brand-new bike for Bonness, complete with safety lights affixed to the front and back.

“I complain about a 30-minute drive (to work),” Mason said. “And Nick has to walk three hours.”

Mason picked Bonness up one night after work to give him a ride home, and said he had to drop by the station to pick something up. But when they got to the station, Mason surprised Bonness with the new bike.

“He was appreciative, but kind of surprised,” Mason said. “He didn’t really know what to think.”

Mason, out of modesty, tried to give the bike to Bonness without his supervisors knowing, but he didn’t succeed. They found out about it, and posted about his act of kindness on Facebook.

“True acts of kindness come in all shapes and forms, many go unnoticed. We felt Officer Mason’s generosity could not go ignored,” the post said. “Although Officer Mason was reluctant to tell anyone about his gift or have his picture taken, Officer Mason is a true asset to the Fairview Heights Police Department and our community.”

Mason said it was an easy thing to do to help out a guy who was just trying to get to work.

“I can appreciate a guy who’s doing what he has to do to get to work,” Mason said. “To me it was just a way to help someone out who’s actually trying.”

Bonness could not immediately be reached for comment.