Strangers donate wheelchairs to boys with disabilities after donated van stolen on Christmas and torched

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MILWAUKEE -- FOX6 viewers stepped up to the plate after we shared a story about a family with two children who have special needs. Their van was stolen on Christmas, as they loaded it up before heading out to celebrate the holiday. The children's wheelchairs were inside the van, which was later found gutted and torched. One day after we shared the story, the boys, ages 7 and 4, received wheelchairs from total strangers.

Christmas morning is filled with surprises, but Jose Figueroa didn't expect what happened outside his home.

"There was nothing we could do. It was quick!" Figueroa said.


In a matter of seconds, thieves drove off in their idling van.

Jose Figueroa as wheelchairs were donated for his sons on Wednesday

"It's not so much the van. They took the wheelchairs," Figueroa said.

The van was donated -- along with a wheelchair ramp for the children who live with disabilities. The wheelchairs were destroyed, but Figueroa was all smiles on Wednesday, January 3rd.

"The community here -- we actually come together. It's not all bad here. It's great. Thank you. I love the fact there are still good-hearted people that want to help," Figueroa said.

A account was set up to raise money for the family. As of Wednesday night, $700 had been raised -- and viewers like Jerry in Mount Pleasant, and many others, offered to donate wheelchairs to the boys. Bob Hansen drove in from New Berlin. He said he felt wheelchairs stored at his company Motor Dolly would be best used by the Figueroa boys.

Bob Hansen

"Just saw the story and when the story was over I told my wife 'give them a call and let them know we had wheelchairs available,'" Hansen said.

The family said if there are wheelchairs donated that they cannot use, they'll be sent to Penfield Children's Center for use there.

As for the account, the hope is that the money can be used for a new van. CLICK HERE if you'd like to donate.

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