Published Tuesday, August 1, 2017 8:26PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 1, 2017 8:54PM EDT
Children in Saskatchewan are pleading with thieves to return a truck full of wheelchairs and other basketball equipment that took years of fundraising to acquire.
The Saskatchewan Wheelchair Sports Association says that 34 chairs and other equipment valued at about $250,000 were stolen over the weekend in Saskatoon.
Olivia Protz, 8, says that her heart almost stopped beating when she heard about the theft.
Protz has Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a neurological disorder effecting her muscles that sometimes makes it difficult for her to balance.
She says wheelchair basketball is her favourite sport because she can do it without becoming easily tired.
She has a message for the thieves: “Give them back in one piece, make sure that they’re in good condition.”
“Make them even better for us,” she adds. “That would be nice.”
Chelsea Seib, 11, is also disappointed about the theft.
She is able-bodied, like nearly half of those in the basketball league, but joined so that she could bond with her mother, who uses a chair.
“When I joined wheelchair basketball, it made me feel like I had so many new friends,” Seib says.
Seib adds that she hopes the thieves “realize that they grabbed the wrong thing and just put them somewhere and notify someone.”
“It would mean so much,” she says.
Joelle Buckle, head coach with the program, says it took years to cobble together the funds for the chairs, so the theft is “heartbreaking.”
If the items aren’t returned, Buckle hopes the new chairs and equipment will be replaced by insurance, but she believes that might take months.
With a report from CTV Saskatoon’s Moses Woldu