Author’s note: The wheelchair was returned to police tonight and is on its way towards what is sure to be a happy reunion with the family … and Gabriel. I like to think all the positive energy from all of you … and the guilt that person must have felt … led to its safe return. Look for the latest on the reunion on Channel 4 Action News.
You may have seen the story about two-year-old Gabriel Carter-Olson. He has the smile and a natural curiosity of any two-year-old. You notice immediately he has a twin brother every bit as active and exciting. You notice he is like any other child until you look down at his legs … and notice the walker he uses to move those legs.
Gabriel lives with cerebral palsy. I know a few things about this because I have worked for the national organization called United Cerebral Palsy for some 20 years in one form or another. I know it’s a disease that physically disables. I know you can still live a full life … just with some help from devices such as special wheelchairs.
Gabriel had his special wheelchair. It was 50 pounds and costs over $5000 and his mother Candy was finally able to get insurance to pay for it … and it arrives two weeks ago. Last week, it was stolen right out of her van at the family home in Glenview. Now, the mom does admit she may have left the van unlocked coming back from the circus with the kids the night before. That being said, it’s still beyond the fray for someone to reach into a car and take a wheelchair.
It’s hard to see anyone victimized by crime … but a two-year-old with special needs? Even his twin brother Christopher, who loved to push his brother in his new chair, senses something is wrong. His mom tells us he tells strangers in the store “wheelchair gone”. For now, Gabriel is resigned to using a walker. It gets him around but the device does not support his legs as well and he can only go so far before his legs tire out.
Police are still investigating.
Just a thought here. It was amazing the outpouring of support for James Harrison when he was fined by the NFL. People sending a dollar to the league offices to help pay Harrison’s fine. If we could only fine the same sense of outrage and contribute a dollar to get Gabriel a new wheelchair.
Just a thought.