Wichitans step up, help special needs boy after trike is stolen

Photo courtesy Karen Wild

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Wichita community has stepped up to help a family after someone stole their son’s special needs trike.

Thursday was an ordinary day for Ellis Wild, 16. As the autistic teen stared out the window, with a toy in hand, his mother Karen Wild was busy greeting strangers touched by her son’s story.

Wild said sometime on Sunday a thief stole Ellis’s AMBUCS, custom trike from their College Hill fenced in yard. Wild described the trike as Ellis’s freedom, an outlet to normalcy. KSN shared what the trike meant to Ellis in a story on Wednesday.

“We saw the news story last night,” said Diane Vereecke.” “It hit right at home.”

Vereecke’s son Patrick, 17, also has autism.

“He is a lot like Ellis. In fact, almost mirror images in a lot of ways, so we wanted to something. We knew we couldn’t do everything, but we wanted to do something,” Vereecke said.

Vereecke said she understands how important something like a tricycle can mean to a child with disabilities.

“It’s such a thrill to have them find something they really like and really enjoy and can do,” she said.

“Oh, it’s everything. Anybody who remembers when they got their first car, it’s kind of the same thing, that feeling of being able to go and do and have some independence,” said Air Capital AMBUCS Board Member Brian Cavin.

Brian Cavin is the former president of Air Capital AMBUCS, a non-profit dedicated to creating mobility and independence for people with disabilities. Cavin said AMBUCS donated the custom-fitted trike to Ellis in 2015. He said he was devastated when he heard it had been stolen.

“It’s unfortunate. It’s heartbreaking,” Cavin said.

Cavin said AMBUCS will replace Ellis’s trike, but Ellis will have to go to the bottom of the about 15 person wish list.

“It’s a first come type-of-deal, so I don’t want to see him have to wait. We talked about seeing if people wanted to donate through our website in his name and then when we get enough finances for him then we will put him at the top of the list,” Cavin said.

Wild said she would love for people to donate to AMBUCS that way if there is any left over money, it could go toward getting a tricycle for another disabled child. Wild said overall she is thankful for the dozens of people who have contacted her wanting to help Ellis.

“It’s really been all kinds of people offering all kinds of things. I have had people message me on Facebook and just say, ‘hey Karen you don’t know me but I just wanted to tell you how sorry I am that this happened and how I wish I could do something,” Wild said.

Wild said the support is proof the Wichita community is willing to help those in need.

“That just means a lot. Thank you for caring everyone. Thank you for caring. We don’t realize how much we care about our community and how much our community cares about us,” she said.

Click here to donate to Air Capital AMBUCS in Ellis’s name. When you click donate, put Ellis’s name in the special instructions tab.

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