12/16/2014 12:45 EST | Updated 02/15/2015 05:59 EST

Carlos Ruiz's wheelchair-enabled van stolen in NDG

A NDG father got a terrible surprise on Monday morning when he discovered his van, outfitted to meet the needs of his eight-year-old son in a wheelchair, was gone from its parking spot.

Carlos Ruiz said he woke up Monday morning, looked outside to check the weather, and discovered his adapted van was missing from its usual parking spot on Decarie Boulevard between Sherbrooke St. and de Maisonneuve Boulevard.

He needs the 1983 Dodge van to drive around his son, Fernando, who has disabilities and uses a wheelchair.

Fernando is unable to walk or speak and other than a school bus, the van was his only form of transportation.

Now Ruiz has no way to drive his son to various medical appointments.

Ruiz is remaining positive, but said buying a new van could cost between $5,000 and $45,000.

He’s filed a police report, but there are no leads so far.

Ruiz said the missing van has caused stress to his son. Ruiz said he tried to explain that someone might have stolen it, and said they might have to buy a new one.

That idea wasn’t popular with Fernando.

“He wants that one. He wants his van,” said Ruiz.

Help from neighbours

After seeing Ruiz upset early in the week, neighbour Sophie Giroux stepped in.

She’s launched an online campaign to find the van.

“I could see how upset he was. My first reaction was ‘you know what Carlos, whoever took this, I hope something bad happens to them. And he said, ‘No Sophie, you can’t think like that. You have to stay positive.”

She’s spread the message widely on Facebook and said the outpouring of support she’s received is overwhelming.

As well, another one of Ruiz’s friends has started a fundraising page to try to fund a new van for the family.