A lightweight, high-speed wheelchair, which 28-year-old D'Arcee Neal of Washington, D.C., is confined to, was stolen from outside a friend's home this week.
Neal, an active member of his community, works for United Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral Palsy has left him without the use of his legs.
He said he often leaves his wheelchair outside his friends' homes when visiting, because he doesn't want to bring dirt into their homes and there's often not enough room for wheelchairs inside D.C. apartments.
Neal was house-sitting for a friend in Logan Circle this week when he woke up one morning and his wheelchair was gone.
"I tucked it out of the way, in the parking lot behind the building ... you don't steal a person's wheelchair!" Neal said.
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He said he asked employees of a nearby liquor store that morning if they had seen the wheelchair. He said he couldn't call police because his phone charger had been left behind at work — only 15 minutes away if he had the wheelchair, but an unimaginable task without one.
"I can't go anywhere. I need a wheelchair to be able to do anything," Neal explained. "Rationale says if you see a wheelchair unoccupied at any time in any given place, somebody near by needs it. It's just that simple. If it doesn't belong to you, you don't touch it."
Though Neal felt hopeless, he seemed to keep his cool demeanor despite having no way of getting around. He said he posted a status to Facebook, asking any of his friends if they could help him rent a standard wheelchair.
"One of them just jumped out of bed and started scouring thrift stores to try and find a chair, then they went to Wal-Mart," Neal said. "It's not a phone, or bicycle. It's like someone literally took the bones out of your legs."
Another friend, unbeknownst to Neal, created a GoFundMe page to help raise money for a brand new wheelchair.
"The retail value is about $5,000," Neal explained. "It has to be custom-built and fit your body."
Neal, a Southeast resident, is an active member of the community and performs with Washington Gay Men's Chorus.
"While I do have insurance, that takes weeks and months," he said, "and I have things I need to do."
Some have questioned whether he should have been house-sitting in the first place.
"Just because I'm in a wheelchair doesn't mean I can't be a good friend," he said.