PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia police are searching for heartless criminals who stole from a disabled boy. Someone took the one thing that allowed the boy to play basketball, a custom-made wheelchair.
Eleven-year old Rasheed Johnson needs a wheelchair to get anywhere. But he doesn’t see it as a disadvantage. He’s learned to live with it and play on a local team with the National Wheelchair Basketball Association.
Rasheed said, “You get with your team and you get with your coaches and have fun.”
He calls it his favorite and only hobby, but his future on the team is now in jeopardy.
“I’m angry because I never had someone steal my wheelchair in my whole entire life and this is a lesson to me that people in this world are not nice,” Rasheed added.
Rasheed’s mother, Stacy, explained, “He has Spina Bifida. He was born with Spina Bifida and these last couple of years it’s been really difficult because the weight has been coming on and coming on.”
So in addition to the manual wheelchair Rasheed uses everyday, his mother bought him a special chair last year so he could use it to play basketball and lose weight.
“The day when someone stole it, I had to go into another chair and I couldn’t push,” Rasheed said.
His chair was stolen last Saturday, the morning of a basketball practice.
“Same routine, go in the garage, get the chairs out and put them on the stairs so Para-transit can pick them up,” Rasheed’s mother further explained that she would run back inside to get her son and when they came back out, the special wheelchair was gone. The thieves managed to steal the chair in less than 10 minutes.
The chair is described to be red with vinyl seats. His initials, “RJ”, were written on the wheels and his full name, “Rasheed Johnson”, was written on the metal bar across the back of the chair. The chair cost $2,600. Insurance does not cover the cost.
Rasheed’s mother said, “I don’t care who did it. Just set it back outside. I don’t care. All I want is the chair back.”
With a basketball tournament game coming up in October, Rasheed and his mother are hoping whoever is responsible does the right thing.
Reported By: Elizabeth Hur, CBS 3