Over the weekend, someone stole a trailer from a YMCA parking lot in Cedar Rapids, a trailer used to store and haul more than a dozen wheelchairs for a wheelchair basketball team. Authorities report the trailer has been found, empty, in the town of Newhall.
Jayden Barrett, who’s on the board of directors for SportAbility of Iowa, says he’s stunned someone stole the wheelchairs. “I was figuring they’d see what was in it,” Barrett says. “Really the only thing they’d get from it is maybe if they sold it for aluminum scrap.” The 13 specially-built wheelchairs were used by the Iowa Chariots basketball team and were worth about $15,000 total.
It’s not the end of the organization, by any means Barrett says, adding, they’ll move forward and do what they’ve always done. “Adapt and overcome,” Barrett says. “We just have to reach out the community like we have in the past and tell them what we need and tell them that we want to be able to continue to offer these kinds of opportunities for people with disabilities.”
In the meantime, Barrett says he’ll keep his eyes open for the stolen wheelchairs. “Really, we’ve just been trying to watch Craigslist and eBay and local pawn shops,” he says. Iowans who want to help SportAbility can contact them at: firstname.lastname@example.org or at 319-538-1805.
(Reporting by Brady Smith, KCRG, Cedar Rapids)