SportAbility close to getting all stolen wheelchairs replaced - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

SportAbility close to getting all stolen wheelchairs replaced

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - It's been quite a long road after 13 specially-adapted basketball wheelchairs were stolen from the SportAbility group in December. Unfortunately

, the Iowa Chariots team didn't have their new equipment to show off for Saturday’s Paralympic event, but they say they’re well on their way.

“We're getting there,” said Iowa Chariot Mario Bennett. “We almost have all the chairs and stuff from getting the fundraising going.”

The group was able to borrow sports wheelchairs for the annual Paralympic Experience at the Kirkwood Community College Recreation Center.

Close to 200 people both with and without disabilities experienced some of the most popular Paralympic sports, from tennis to wheelchair racing.

“Life is different for them and how we can help them to live a more satisfying and happy life,” said Jordan O’Donnell, a physical therapy student volunteer. “It’s just amazing to see them enjoying life and still have that confidence and drive.”

Paralympic Experience is all in an effort to demonstrate there are no limits for people to overcome their disabilities,not even the heartless thieves who tried to rob their active lifestyle.

“When I heard about it I was like ‘Oh man,’ but just to come and get a lot of support from the community, and just kind of getting the word out there for fundraising and stuff,” said Bennett.

SportAbility director Jayden Barrett says each of the stolen wheelchairs costs about $3,000 to $5,000, and the community’s support has helped them bring in almost $30,000.

“These people have these long-term injuries and it's really important that we show that we actually care,” said physical therapy student volunteer Tyler Guzzo. “It really helps us see how we can help these people and how they function in daily life.”

Last week the group purchased eight new wheelchairs with donations from the community.

They hope to get their new wheelchairs sometime next month.

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