Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fundraiser for Paralyzed Girl Whose Wheelchair was Stolen

Reported by: Tenikka Smith
Contributor: Shane Myers
Last Update: 11/18 10:21 pm

A wheelchair belonging to 5 year-old Annabelle Hulgan, who has been paralyzed from the waist down since birth, was stolen.

MEMPHIS, TN -- ABC24/CW30 Eyewitness News will be holding a fundraiser for little Annabelle Hulgan who had her wheelchair stolen Monday, November 17, 2008.

Volunteers will be at Los Compadres Restaurant located at 2617 Poplar Avenue at Union Avenue Extended until 10:30 p.m., Tuesday, November 18, 2008.

Police say the $8,000 custom wheelchair was stolen from the front yard while Annabelle’s caregiver was carrying her inside the home.

Annabelle was born with spina bifida and is paralyzed from the waist down. Unless someone holds her in their arms or pushes her in a stroller, the wheelchair is the only way for Annabelle to get around on her own.

Caregiver Jackie Jackson says, "When I first came out to get the chair, I said maybe it’s in the car. Then like an idiot, I looked under the car. Then we looked on top of the car. We looked everywhere!"

Annabelle has her own theory of what happened. The five year-old says, "Somebody pulled in that driveway and came up here and stole it."

Police told Jackson it looks like someone tried to steal the license plate off her neighbor’s car and when that didn’t work they went for the next easy target, Annabelle’s customized wheelchair.

Christen Hulgan says after the theft of the wheelchair, Annabelle, “Just kept crying saying why would somebody do this to me? Why would somebody want to hurt me? Why would somebody bad do this to me? Her nanny Ms. Jackson says, "She’s upset because they've taken part of her. They've taken her legs."

Mom says, "She doesn’t want somebody to carry her around. She doesn’t want to be in a stroller she wants her wheelchair."

When asked the crook needed to do with her wheelchair, Annabelle simply answered, “Give it back.”

Annabelle's wheelchair took six months to custom fit and design for her special needs. The wheelchair cost $8,000 and the family tells Eyewitness News they cannot afford to replace it.

Police say Jackson found the wheelchair Tuesday while driving around the neighborhood searching for the stolen chair. She says she found it in pieces in a box.

The company that designed Annabelle's wheelchair says the family will more than likely have to replace it. The family has set up a donation fund at First Tennessee Bank. Ask to give to the "Annabelle Wheelchair Fund."

UPDATE: Here is an update from the Knoxville News Sentinel.

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