Basketball wheelchairs returned, many parts still missing

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News 12 First at Five / Monday, Aug. 5, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- A group is on the rebound after 12 of their basketball wheelchairs were stolen.

News 12 is happy to report a stolen trailer full of wheelchairs has found its way home. A man found the trailer next to his south Augusta home Sunday night and called deputies.

Even though the wheelchairs are back, not everything was returned. Now, it's a race against the clock to be ready for game time.

"It appears they were maybe getting ready to turn them in for scrap metal, possibly. Who knows what they were thinking," asked Champions Made From Adversity Chairman Jeff Snover.

Twelve wheelchairs are back home, but all their parts are not.

"Some were stripped. We have maybe a couple axles missing, the tool box that was in there is missing. All the basketballs that we had are missing, the air pump was also missing," listed Programs Manager Damion Peyton.

The trailer full of wheelchairs was stolen from its spot at Garrett Elementary over the weekend. On Sunday night, it was found nearly 10 miles away off Fleming Drive.

"You know they just backed it right up in there, and they had the tire tracks and all," pointed Kelvin Livingston.

He and his nephew Jake saw the story on the news and connected the dots when he saw the trailer outside his south Augusta home.

"On the first part of the news it showed a guy pushing a wheelchair across the basketball court, and I said I bet that's got something to do with that trailer outside," Livingston said.

He was right. It was breaking news on News 12 at 11 o'clock Sunday when the wheelchairs were found, but the celebration didn't last long.

"It seems that a lot of our wheels are missing axles," Snover said.

That's not the only thing still missing. Four specific wheelchair regulation basketballs, costing about $50 a piece, are still gone. So are the tools to fix the broken chairs.

"Replacing what is missing will probably cost about $1,500," Snover said.

With practice starting this week, now it's a race against the clock to raise money and be ready for game time.

"Crunch time. But we're gonna get it done. These guys deserve to play ball. And I play ball, too, so we'll get it done and be ready at the first of the season," Peyton said.

"It's like a punch in the gut. The ability to provide quality of life was lost for a moment, but it's back now," Snover said.

It's a situation that has the organization Champions Made From Adversity living up to its name once more.

The team was going to cancel its first practice this Wednesday but instead decided they are going to meet and use the time to work on repairing the wheelchairs as a team.

There are no witnesses or suspects at this point, but the Sheriff's Office says they will continue to investigate.

If you would like to help the organization by donating, click here to head over to their website.

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