A Modesto family is devastated after someone stole their van right off their driveway over the weekend.
Anya Vanessa Heidenberg remembers going to her curtains on her living room window on Saturday night and seeing her aqua 2010 Chrysler Town and Country Touring in her driveway. She remembers thinking to herself that everything is safe and went to bed.
The next morning, it was her 5-year-old twin daughters who first noticed something was wrong.
“We were checking on it and was like ‘mommy where’s your car’ and we saw that it was gone,” Emma said.
Heidenberg first thought the girls were playing a joke on her, when she looked outside and noticed the van missing.
Heidenberg said there were three expensive car seats, a running stroller, a puppy kennel, a tablet with dozens of Disney movies, and a baby carrier inside the van – things she said she just can’t afford to replace.
“I felt like we had already hit rock bottom and then someone steals my car,” Heidenberg said. “It was nothing to write home about. It wasn’t a Mercedes; it was a minivan. It was a blue, mom-baby bus.”
The car had more than 100,000 miles on it and didn’t even have any gas in it, Heidenberg said. While just an old, used minivan to anyone else, to Heidenberg it was her world. That’s because it’s the only way Heidenberg can take her three daughters to specialists in Stanford.
Twins Emma and Gracie both have Neurofibromatosis I, a genetic mutation that causes tumors in the nervous system.
At just 2-years-old, both twins developed tumors in their brain. Gracie’s tumors are benign, but Emma’s are cancerous.
Emma is legally blind and can only see out of one eye with the help of prescription glasses. On top of that, both girls have ADHD. Emma was also diagnosed with PTSD from her chemotherapy, according to Heidenberg.
“When you have a kid as special as Emma you go where the specialists are,” Heidenberg said.
Along with their youngest daughter, the family drives to Stanford every other week, sometimes multiple times in one week, for chemotherapy as well as doctors’ appointments. Not having the van has turned their world upside down.
“It’s disastrous because I had two appointments just today that I had to cancel,” Heidenberg said.
While the van can, in time, be replaced, there’s one thing keeping Heidenberg up at night: Emma’s Make-A-Wish key.
“I know it’s something small and I could probably contact Make-A-Wish, but I know it won’t be her key,” Heidenberg said. “They have her key and she opens this door to her wish and she puts her wish in a box and this show comes on. It was the first good thing to happen to us in a really long time.”
Heidenberg took the key and hung it on a chain on her rearview mirror along with a prayer token her friend gave her that said ‘believe miracles can happen.’
“And every time I would break down and cry and thought I just couldn’t do it any more, I would see that key and think good things do happen and people do care and I can get through this,” Heidenberg said, tearing up.
With everything that has happened, Heidenberg said she’s just trying to stay calm.
“I stay calm in the moment, I break down after. I can’t fall apart in front of my kids. If I do, if I cry, they cry,” Heidenberg said. “It’s just a nightmare. I don’t really know how it ends, but I do know in our story things don’t get better they get worse.”
If there’s one thing she could say to the suspects, it’s this:
“I would just say I hope you needed it more than we did,” she said. “Also there’s a bible in that car, maybe they should read it.”
To learn more about Emma’s journey follow her blog here.
The family has a GoFundMe page.