Wheelchairs Still Missing After Trailer is Found

By Brady Smith, Reporter

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By Adam Carros

NEWHALL, Iowa - Only a few days after it was stolen from the Stoney Point YMCA parking lot, Jayden Barrett got a call from police, saying a trailer belonging to his organization was found in Newhall, several miles west of Cedar Rapids. The trailer had been carrying more than a dozen specially-built wheelchairs used by SportAbility to play basketball. Police told Barrett a bus driver had found it sitting in the parking lot of the bus barn in Newhall.

Barrett arrived in Newhall with Dylan Campbell, another member of SportAbility's board of directors, hoping to find something inside. But as Barrett lowered the trailer's back door, his worst fear was confirmed.

"Well, Dylan, they did take all the chairs," Barrett said. "They just left a few extra tires and some cushions. Wow."

It was a disappointing discovery that left Barrett nearly speechless.

"I'm not quite sure what to say," Barrett told us.

Barrett estimates the 13 wheelchairs that were inside cost at least $15,000, but their value as stolen items is likely far less than that.

"The only thing they'd get from it is maybe if they sold it for aluminum scrap," Barrett said, pointing out that the thief or thieves had to break through three heavy-duty locks to get in.

"They went through a lot of trouble. They weren't cheap, Masterlocks, I mean we paid seventy bucks apiece for them," Barrett explained.

But Campbell said SportAbility won't focus on what was lost.

"This isn't the death of the organization by any means," said Campbell.

Instead, Barrett said they'll move forward and do what they've always done.

"Adapt and overcome," Barrett said. "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 said he'll keep his eyes open, and his spirits up. "Really, we've just been trying to watch Craigslist and eBay, and local pawn shops."

"Hopefully we can partner up with some other organizations I think," Campbell told us. "We're trying to see if we can maybe borrow some other chairs from other people."

If you want to help SportAbility, contact them at info@sportabilityofiowa.org, or call them at 319-538-1805.
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