South Natomas theft robs disabled athletes of chance to compete

The trailer wasn’t much to look at — just a small flatbed utility trailer.

But the modest trailer performed a very important function for some Sacramento area athletes. It carried the wheelchairs used in a basketball league for physically challenged youth and adults.

The Sacramento Royals Wheelchair Basketball program provides opportunities for men, women and children with various disabilities to benefit from all the advantages that playing sports brings, said Alicia Szutowicz, co-founder and vice president of operations.

Szutowicz first noticed the trailer missing from her South Natomas home Thursday afternoon. She believes it was stolen overnight.

She was shocked by the theft.

The reason it is so important is that most athletes in the program lack their own chairs, and of those who do, not all of them have the means to transport them to and from practice and games. The program provides the special athletic chairs needed to those who don’t have their own, using the trailer to haul them around.

Szutowicz has filed a police report and set up a GoFundMe page to purchase a new trailer. She’s put the word out and has been checking Craigslist and other sites for the trailer, because the program can’t function without it.

“Now we’re in a rush,” she said. “We have practice Sunday and I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Szutowicz and Christian Rodriguez started a team about six years ago to serve disabled athletes in the Sacramento area, and soon branched out with a youth program, because of a lack of athletic programs for these youths locally.

Currently, nine kids and 12 adults participate in three teams, she said.

“I’m very proud of the kids we have,” she said.

The youth program is geared toward the whole child, providing mentoring, guidance and help with school, Szutowoicz said.

“A lot of disabled kids don’t make it to college,” she said. “I want them to go to college.”

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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