Community replaces disabled girl’s stolen wheelchair

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SAN DIEGO – Less than a week after a thief stole the wheelchair and hand cycle from a 10-year-old girl who suffers from spina bifida, strangers stepped up Friday to donate some new wheels.

Last week, while her family was unpacking for a weekend "staycation" in Mission Beach, a thief swiped Claire’s wheelchair and hand cycle – a nearly $5,000 loss that left the family and the community outraged.

Both pieces, on loan from a friend, were stolen right out of the driveway of their rented condo.

“I’m speechless,” Claire’s mother, Peggy Dermody, said. “I know I said last week I didn’t have words to describe my anger, and now I don’t have words to describe how excited I am.

Claire’s new hand cycle is made by a local company in El Cajon and donated by Road Runner Sports’ nonprofit, “Athletes Helping Athletes.

The East County family was forced to adjust their weekend plans. Claire had to sit out on a group bike ride up the beach.

“I was really sad because everyone else went and I didn’t,” Claire said.

After FOX 5 ran Claire’s story, San Diegans stepped up.

“It was really the community coming together and everyone working together to bring us together today,” Erin Campbell said.

“She loves to be independent and free and she loves speed, and this gives her independence,” Peggy said.