Toledo Elks Lodge replaces 8-year-old boy’s stolen wheelchairWritten by Jennifer S. White | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Eight-year-old Dustin Craig has cerebral palsy and requires a wheelchair for mobility. In August, his wheelchair was stolen, but Toledo Elks Lodge No. 53 presented Craig with a new, custom-designed wheelchair in a ceremony Sept. 25.
“That is my wheelchair,” Craig said. “It has my name on the back.”
“This brings tears to my eyes,” said Earl Price, Craig’s stepfather. “The Elks jumped right on it.”
Toledo Elks member Marty Shanahan said he heard about Craig’s predicament on the news.
“I was watching T.V.,” Shanahan said, “and I saw the story. [Craig’s] wheelchair had been left on the porch and stolen overnight. I got on the phone right away because this is exactly the kind of thing the Elks helps with.”
Shanahan said Craig’s donated wheelchair is worth $3,000.
“This fit right into our program,” said Elks Exalted Ruler Robert Seawick. “Cerebral palsy is our state project.”
Seawick said the Elks central priority is philanthropy.
“This is a national organization of likeminded people,” Seawick said. “Helping [Craig] was our primary concern. The Elks getting its name out there is secondary.”
“This is a fraternal organization,” Shanahan said. “We are looking for new members. The Elks started as a kind of boys’ night out, but now we really encourage women and young people to join.”
Shanahan said Brennan Arbogast from National Seating and Mobility Inc. donated labor to customize Craig’s new wheelchair.
“[Arbogast] is so good with children,” Price said. “He asked us [Craig’s] color preference and then made the chair metallic blue with the name ‘Dustin’ embroidered on the back.”
“I hope this chair brings [Craig] freedom, mobility and makes life easier,” said Marlene Dudgeon, an Elks chairwoman. “There are good people in the world.”
“We got so many calls,” Price said. “When the wheelchair was stolen, it was on the 6 o’clock news. By 9 p.m. we had received so much help.”
“I did not realize I was going to come here today,” Craig said about getting his surprise wheelchair. He said that his parents and two sisters told him he was getting a shot at the doctor’s office.
“In order to take [Craig] out of school,” Price said, “we had to offer an excuse, but we really wanted this to be a surprise.”
Price said he and his wife, Julie Price, Craig’s mother, are overwhelmed with the community support they have received.
“I thank the Elks and the news media,” Earl Price said. “This isn’t a shot at the doctor’s office, buddy. I fibbed.”
“We are righting a terrible wrong,” Seawick said.
“[Craig] has to crawl,” Earl Price said. “This wheelchair will make a huge difference for all of us.”