When the Worth family dropped off their late son’s ATV for repairs in August at The Gremlin Garage, a motorcycle shop in New River, their younger son had no idea the surprise awaiting him when they were to pick it up in December.
The ATV belonged to their adopted son, Jesse, who died in a fatal car accident four years ago at the age of 22. The motor started going out just as their younger biological son, Colton, turned 16 and started enjoying the ATV.
When they dropped it off at the shop, they were unsure if the ATV was even repairable but communicated its sentimental value to the shop owner, Jon Ritzheimer, in hopes that something could be done to save it.
The Gremlin Garage is a veteran-owned and -operated motorcycle repair shop established by Ritzheimer in June 2017.
Touched by the family’s story, Ritzheimer did everything in his power to restore the ATV to its fullest capabilities for the Worth family’s younger son.
Not only did Ritzheimer completely rebuild the engine twice, but he also installed new graphics, tires and rims—all for free. Ritzheimer also added tribute sticker decals that read, “In loving memory of Jesse Worth, Ride in Peace,” with Jesse’s birthday and death date.
In an emotion-filled grand reveal, Ritzheimer and The Gremlin Garage crew surprised Colton with the finished ATV on the afternoon of December 11, with the whole family present.
A Boulder Creek High School student, Colton hopped on the ATV with a huge smile on his face and thanked the crew for its hard work.
“It’s just amazing that (Ritzheimer) did this,” Christine said. “It really is. I can’t give him enough credit. I mean, he didn’t even know us.”
“Jesse had the biggest heart in the world,” said Colton’s mom Christine, tearing up. “So, to me, this is maybe him working through Jon.”
This isn’t The Gremlin Garage’s first charitable act. In 2019, Ritzheimer and his crew gifted a homeless gentleman a new Harley-Davidson when his motorcycle was deemed irreparable, helping to change his life.
Ritzheimer was doing repairs on the ATV as usual until he realized “this thing wasn’t worth fixing,” he said, explaining the laundry list of repairs needed and how much it would cost.
However, hearing about the history of the ATV and its sentimental value, he didn’t have the heart to give up on it, he said. “There was no way we were going to let this thing go out the door without it being fixed.”
Ritzheimer said he and his crew decided to go the extra mile and make it a charitable act for the family, considering the fact that “COVID has actually been good to (The Gremlin Garage).”
The shop has been virtually unaffected by COVID-19 and has actually, in a way, benefited from it due to people going out and riding their motorcycles more often than before with their extra free time, he said.
“If God blesses me with the means and the ability to do it, then I’m going to do it,” Ritzheimer said about the charitable acts.
The family adopted Jesse when he was 2 years old. Jesse grew up in Anthem and attended Boulder Creek High School. The family now resides in Tramonto. The ATV was supposed to belong to Christine, she said, “and then Jesse took it over,” she added with a laugh.
“(Jesse) was an awesome rider,” Christine said. “He had a blast on it. He went everywhere.” The family took the ATV with them camping just about every weekend, she added.
When the repairs were taking longer than expected, Christine became worried, figuring the expenses were building higher and higher, she said.
When Ritzheimer called Christine asking her to come to the shop to talk, she thought she was going to be presented with the news of the “death of Jesse’s bike,” she said. Christine figured it would be unfixable and that she owed a bunch of money, she added. To her surprise, Ritzheimer told her about his plan to do it all and more for free.
The news of this good deed was overwhelming for the mother, she said. All she and her husband had to do from there was keep it a surprise for their son.
Colton was itching to get the ATV back in his possession and knew it was in the shop but had no idea the extras that were in store for him, Christine said.
The finished ATV met all of his expectations, Colton said. “It’s nice to have it back and have it fixed and everything,” he said with a big smile.
“He’s a good rider,” Christine said about Colton. “So, it just brings back memories. When he rides it, sometimes I see it coming up and I still see Jesse.”