Phoenix athlete's $5,000 wheelchair stolen in Ohio - New York News

Phoenix athlete's $5,000 wheelchair stolen in Ohio

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He's an intense competitor, an elite athlete in his class.

But now Phoenix Paralympian Erik Hightower says he cannot crash the finish line without your help. His custom racing wheelchair was stolen in Ohio.

Erik raced this weekend in Indianapolis, Indiana. He planned to drive to Cincinnati, Ohio to visit his family. His aunt put his wheelchair in the back of her truck and on the way back to Cincinnati she made one stop, at a hospital before going home. That's when his wheelchair was stolen.

"Honestly I'm just so confused on why they would take it," said Erik Hightower.

Paralympian Erik Hightower should be relaxing this week, getting ready to celebrate the 4th of July and vacationing with family in Ohio. Instead, he's Skyping with media, talking to police, and hoping to get the word out about his one of a kind racing wheelchair being stolen.

"I was just in shock, I didn't know what to say. I didn't know why someone would want it because these racing chairs are so highly customized for people with disabilities, it's not like any person can get in it and use it," said Hightower.

Erik's from Phoenix and is ranked one of the top 10 in the world in wheelchair racing. He's medaled in the Paralympics.

"I had to pay $5,000 for this chair. To anyone else it's nothing because there's no use for it, it's made for me and I just got this chair a month ago, so it's a brand new chair that I'm making payments on and it's gone," he said.

This weekend in Indianapolis Erik broke two personal records and the America's record for the fastest 100 meter in his new custom wheelchair.

"I'm not looking to press charges or anything, I just want my chair back, if you have it drop it off at the police station, drop it off at the hospital where it was taken from, put it somewhere where I can get it back so I can continue racing and doing what I have to do," said Hightower.
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