Update: 4:00 p.m. EDT July 23: A Massachusetts family is grateful after an anonymous donor replaced a custom wheelchair that was stolen from their daughter.
Maliyah Rodriguez is a 6-year-old with special needs who needs the chair to get around. So, it was devastating when her wheelchair disappeared last week.
After the family issued an emotional plea for the return of the chair, they were surprised by the generosity of an anonymous stranger, who donated a new chair for Maliyah.
A Massachusetts family is issuing a desperate plea after a Brighton girl's wheelchair disappeared from their driveway.
Family makes emotional plea after daughter's wheelchair disappears https://t.co/OmDi0XQgTJ— Boston 25 News (@boston25) July 23, 2018
The 6-year-old girl with special needs depends on her customized wheelchair to get around, and her parents believe it could be months before they replace it.
The family keeps the wheelchair in the driveway because it's difficult to carry up and down the stairs.
They say they're not sure why someone would take it, but they want the thief to know how much this is already affecting their child's life.
"She's pretty much stuck. She's big. She's heavy. We have to carry her everywhere," said Gabriella Rodriguez, the girl's mother.
Rodriguez has been carrying her daughter, Maliyah, since her wheelchair vanished Friday.
"I panicked because it's the only thing she has to get around," Rodriguez said.
Maliyah suffered brain damage during a traumatic birth and isn't able to walk on her own. Her family is struggling to understand why someone would take the girl's only source of mobility.
“It’s horrible. Not only is it a wheelchair; it’s a child’s wheelchair," said Marina Rodriguez, Maliyah's grandmother. "For someone to come onto our property and take it is disgusting."
Maliyah's father believes whoever took the wheelchair did so intentionally but perhaps didn't realize how much it means to his child.
“You don’t have to say anything. I don’t care if it’s in the middle of the night, just give it back. We just want it back," said Keith Roberts, Maliyah's father. "That way I don’t have to go through the hassle of getting a new one."
The family says it could take up to six months and could potentially cost them thousands of dollars, even after insurance.
Without it, her parents don't think she'll be able to attend summer camp this week.
"We will not press charges; no questions asked. Just bring the wheelchair back," Marina said.
A report has been filed with police.