9-Year-Old to Get New Wheelchair After Thief Strikes

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CLEVELAND--FOX 8 viewers are moved to action after learning about a nine-year-old boy whose wheelchair was stolen. Many people called and emailed the station offering to help.

Tuesday, a local company agreed to donate a replacement.

Without assistance, it's tough for Stephen Gibson to get around Cleveland's Sunbeam Elementary School.

Stephen has cerebral palsy and scoliosis.

"He needs to have a chair both to get to and from school and while he's in school. So in order for him to function during the school day, he needs to be able to transport himself from one place to another," said Gibson’s teacher, Terri Lurie.

Sometime early Sunday morning, someone broke into the Gibson family garage on Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, stealing meat out of a freezer and the wheelchair.

"I was like 'Oh my God', so I guess they needed the wheelchair to haul off all the meat and stuff," said Stephen’s mother, Barbara Gibson.

Gibson says ever since the story aired Monday night, she has been inundated with calls from people wanting to help.

"Heart-wrenching, I tell you. It moves me to tears that people would be so loving and open to do this to help us like this," she said.

“Just give me my wheelchair back," the fourth grader pleaded.

Two people dropped off wheelchairs to Stephen's home, and although his mother appreciates the help, she says Stephen needs a chair with certain specifications.

"It's way too big for Stephen cause Stephen only weighs like 47 pounds and we couldn't use it," said Gibson.

There is one he can use while he's in school, but not to get back and forth. Plus, he says his was special.

"Because the wheels light up," Stephen said.

"I have a bad heart. I have a defibrillator, so I can't do a lot of lifting, especially the wheelchairs are very heavy. So for me to have to transport him back and forth, it wouldn't be good for me," said the boy’s mother.

Elyria-based Invacare, which manufactures wheelchairs, has agreed to donate a customized chair to Stephen, and because he likes basketball it will include the ability for him to shoot hoops too.

"He also likes to have the ability to have a chair so that he can be in control of where he goes and how he gets there," says Lurie.

There’s no word on exactly when Stephen will receive his new chair.

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