UPDATE: A GoFundMe campaign has been created to raise money for new wheelchairs.
Children in Saskatoon are pleading for the safe return of 34 basketball wheelchairs that went missing after a trailer was stolen over the weekend.
The trailer, holding the orange and black chairs and other sports equipment for the NRG Mini Wheelchair Basketball program, was taken from the Saskatchewan Wheelchair Sports Association, according to Postmedia. The office noticed the theft on Monday.
"It's not really the trailer that I care about, it's the 34 wheelchairs that are inside because that's all the wheelchairs for our kids' mini basketball program," Andrea Muir, executive director of the Saskatchewan Wheelchair Sports Association, told CBC News. "The chairs aren't worth anything to anybody but us."
The Quicky All Court wheelchairs each cost $4,000, and took the program years of fundraising to buy.
One of the girls on the team, eight-year-old Olivia Protz found out about the theft on Tuesday morning. She said she didn't feel good after finding out about the trailer disappearing, Global News reported.
"It feels like a broken heart," she said.
Protz has a neurological disorder, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, so she needs to wear ankle braces to prevent injuries and help her stay balanced. Her parents signed her up for wheelchair basketball so she could flex her athletic abilities before her degenerative condition worsened.
Protz also told CTV News she enjoyed wheelchair basketball because she could participate without tiring too quickly.
She said she hoped the thieves would return the chairs in good condition. "Make them even better for us... That would be nice." she added.
"Hopefully, whoever's taken the trailer has dumped the chairs somewhere in Saskatoon and we can find a tip on where the chairs are," Muir told Global News. She estimated the total value of everything missing at around $250,000.
The facility's wheelchairs are for kids aged five to 16, and able-bodied children are also allowed to use them. They're also loaned for free to families to use in other gym programs.
The missing vehicle is a 2006 Royal Trailer with the Saskatchewan license plate 859 HDN and the serial number 2S9AL126763017521.
Anyone who can help locate the wheelchairs is being asked to contact Saskatoon police at 306-975-8300.
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