Benefit held to replace teen’s stolen wheel chair

SARALAND, Ala. (WALA)- Folks in Saraland came together to help a disabled teenager. her wheelchair was stolen just a few weeks ago.

The community held a benefit Saturday in hopes of getting her a new one soon.

Volunteers fired up the grills early Saturday morning.

Darrell Leachman said he was proud to see what his neighbors and friends were doing to help his daughter.

“The community has been so wonderful today. I’ve been really blessed. The good Lord has looked over us today,” Leachman said.

Leachman and his wife were at Lowes on the Beltline last month when the unthinkable happened.

“We went to Lowe’s to pick up some plumbing stuff for the house, and when we came back out I noticed that the wheel chair was gone, so I asked my wife did you move the wheel chair? She said I didn’t move the wheel chair,” he said.

16-year-old Whitney Leachman was sleeping in the pickup, when someone stole the wheelchair off the back of the vehicle. Whitney was born with Spina Bifida. She has never walked.

“Why would anybody take a wheelchair? It’s pink and white so you know it’s for a girl,” Leachman said.

Leachman said the custom made wheelchair was donated about seven years ago.
He doesn’t think it would even be beneficial to just anyone.

“She has an open spine, her spine tilts over to one way so they have to custom make these seats for them to sit in. So, it’s really important to have these things, and when they don’t, she has no way to get around. She can’t do anything, she’s not mobile any more, so it’s really a tragedy, it really is. I just don’t see how anybody could do it. I really don’t. It just blows my mind,” he said.

Daphne Shelton helped organize today’s benefit. She’s says the goal was to sell 500 rib and chicken dinners. That goal was exceeded before noon.

“The guys started cooking about 4:30 this morning. We had people already stopping at 6:30 wanting plates, and around 7:30 we started handed out plates, and we’ve already sold over a thousand plates, and about 250 slabs of ribs, and we have people still waiting on ribs now,” Sheldon said.

The plates were going out as fast has they could make them. It will cost thousands of dollars to replace the custom made chair, and the family is hopeful they’ll have Whitney back on wheels soon.

” I can say that I’m sure that her wheel chair,,, and we even had a guy that donated a lift, because she had never had a lift, and so he donated a lift which will help her get out of the bed. And be able to get in her wheel chair,” she said.

” We have to take her all the way up to Atlanta, Georgia to have it made. We have to take her up there. They custom mold it, and it actually dries and they’ll build a seat. And we’ll come back and install it on a wheel chair. I do want to thank the community for everything they done, they come back and bought plates, and everything they donated, it’s really been wonderful,” Leachman said.

Whitney will celebrate her 17th birthday next week. The promise of a brand new wheel chair will be a great gift. Whitney was not at the benefit, because she just got out of the hospital.

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