WATSONVILLE -- A week after someone stole and wrecked Mikel Harris' customized beach wheelchair, his family has raised $900 in donations to get it repaired.
The $10,000 motorized wheelchair with extra-large wheels was taken Jan. 28 from the Rodgers Avenue home Harris and his wife, Kathleen, recently moved to. Watsonville police recovered it Thursday, but the Harrises said it was severely damaged.
On the fundraising page set up by daughter Shannon Blount, Harris posted Sunday about how touched he was by the donations.
"Waking up this morning and seeing all the kindness of strangers is overwhelming! I am feeling the love this morning," he wrote. "Thank you to everyone who is sharing my story and reaching into their pockets. Just sharing my story is enough -- but thank you again to all of you going above and BEYOND!"
Since the fundraising page launched Friday, 24 people had chipped in $900 by Monday afternoon.
The family's goal is to raise $5,000 and find someone locally who can help restore the chair back to safe, working condition. The Harrises said the chair's original manufacturer has since gone out of business and they aren't sure who to turn to for assistance.
Harris has had to use a wheelchair for about 40 years, and said the beach wheelchair allowed him to play on the beach with his children and grandchildren.
Watsonville police have not made any arrests in the theft but are continuing to pursue leads. Officers ask anyone with information on the case to call investigations at 768-3352 or the anonymous tipline at 768-3544.
For more information or to donate to Harris' wheelchair fund, visit www.gofundme.com/1z2li8.
Follow Sentinel reporter Jessica M. Pasko on Twitter at Twitter.com/jmpasko96