BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – Just hours after reporting his wheelchair stolen, a Valley veteran is back on the move — all thanks to a quick-thinking police officer and an organization who share a common bond.
Daniel Worstell had big plans on Tuesday — head to the Veterans Administration clinic on Belmont Avenue in the morning and then to the AMVETS in Struthers to see President Trump.
But none of that happened because he discovered his Red Pride Jet 3 motorized wheelchair was missing.
“My heart just sank,” he said.
Worstell said when he came out that morning, the wheelchair was gone but the lock wasn’t damaged.
“I don’t know how they figured out the combination but they did.”
Detectives with the Boardman Police Department were at Worstell’s home Wednesday to find clues to who may have taken it.
“It is sad when your victim is someone who served our country like this. I have no words,” Detective Phil Merlo said.
Worstell has some medical issues and it is hard for him to walk. He bought the wheelchair just a few weeks ago and it’s critical to his independence.
While the theft left him in a bind, Worstell didn’t have any harsh words for whoever took it.
“I don’t have a vindictive heart. I just hope that you need it more than I do,” he said.Watch: Veteran’s wheelchair stolen in Boardman
In a heartwarming turn of events, one of the Boardman detectives — who is also a veteran — reached out to AMVETS Post 44 in Struthers to see if they could help Worstell out.
“When he started telling me about his service and that he’s a fellow veteran, I excused myself and stepped around the corner and immediately reached out to Mr. Brown because I know if anyone can make things happen, it’s him,” Det. Paul Poulos said.
They came through.
AMVETS Commander Jan Brown said they loaded up a new chair and brought it to Worstell.
“We just happened to have that Hover Round that someone else donated to us because it didn’t work for them.”
“This is overwhelming. I’m trying to keep my emotions in check because I didn’t expect anything like this. This is really going to be a life saver,” Worstell said.
Overcome with emotion, Worstell thanked the AMVETS for their incredible gift but more so for their brotherhood — a bond that not many people outside of the service get to witness first-hand.
“It’s really, really just overwhelming. I thought I was alone and now I know that I’m not,” Worstell said.
Poulos said it’s hard for a veteran to admit they need help.
“The gentleman was very upset over this happening and even needing to ask for help. We rely on each other in those situations.”
Brown said they were happy to meet Worstell’s need.
Now Worstell says he would like to find a way to give back to the group that has already done so much for him.
“I’ve been looking for a veterans organization to join and this is the one for me now. There’s no doubt about it, I will join.”
But his first step is getting well.
“I have some procedures coming up and, hopefully, this isn’t a permanent thing and I’ll be back on my feet eventually,” Worstell said.
This wheelchair is just a donation until he gets enough money to pay for a new wheelchair or finds one in good working condition.
The community support has already been overwhelming. Wednesday night, Worstell was handed one of what officials believe are several monetary donations to get him up and on the go again.
To donate, contact the Boardman Police Department and ask for Det. Poulos.