The Ottumwa Courier

December 17, 2013

Basketball wheelchairs stolen in Cedar Rapids


Ottumwa Courier

---- — CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — A trailer full of wheelchairs used for basketball was stolen from a Cedar Rapids YMCA parking lot.

More than a dozen wheelchairs belonging to SportAbility of Iowa were in the trailer, which was taken over the weekend from the Stoney Point YMCA lot.

The wheelchairs are used by the Iowa Chariots team, whose members have little or no use of their legs.

Jayden Barrett, director of SportAbility, said he can't understand why someone would steal the wheelchairs, which were purchased with donated money.

"These chairs aren't worth anything to anybody unless they need them," Barrett told KCRG-TV (http://bit.ly/ISLDJy ). "For them to take them, it's kind of like stealing soup from a soup kitchen, you know?"

The chairs cost $3,000 to $5,000 each.

The Chariots perform during halftime at basketball games as a way to raise money.

"We go to games and we perform at halftime in these chairs, and it's really kind of the driving force behind our organization," Barrett said. "It's our way of showing people what people with disabilities are truly capable of."

Barrett said he's working with Cedar Rapids police in the hope of recovering the trailer, though he noted the chairs are far more important than the trailer.

"In all honesty, I'd say take the trailer, just give us our chairs back," he said.