On Christmas Day, thieves stole the van that Michael Bledsoe, 48, needs to transport himself and his wheelchair.
A La Grange man has stepped in to help Bledsoe. Bob Brejla had a van he no longer uses and thought Bledsoe should have it. The physically challenged Chicago man is grateful that a stranger would be so kind, especially after thieves took something so important to his ability to get around.
The van is a 1988 Dodge Maxivan with only 47,000 miles on it. Brejla bought it brand new in 1988.
"It's like a little baby to us," said Brejla. But with no use for it anymore, he was thinking of selling it, until he learned about Bledsoe's story.
Bledsoe's Dodge Caravan was stolen on Christmas less than ten minutes after Bledsoe had parked the van in his handicapped space in front of his South Side apartment. Bledsoe has difficulty walking and speaking after a childhood accident left him partially paralyzed. He completely relies on his vehicle to get around.
"It got to me a little bit right here on Christmas Day; I said, 'What a story,'" said Brejla. "I talked it over with the wife, she said, 'Why don't you donate it to the poor guy?' I said, 'OK.'"
Bledsoe and his family members drove to La Grange to pick it up. Bledsoe could not stop smiling. His sister, Azlia Hudson, was concerned the van was too big for Bledsoe to handle, but he took a test drive and handled it just fine.
"He did good; he did a backup and everything; it went well," said Hudson.
As the title was transferred from Brejla to Bledsoe, he and his family members could not believe the cold-hearted act of stealing a van on Christmas Day could turn into an act of kindness.
"I love it, I'm in shock; I don't know what to say, but thank you," said Bledsoe.
"I think it is just a miracle," said Hudson. "I mean it's, like, unbelievable."
The van is in mint condition. Bledsoe says he plans to keep it that way, because that is how he treated his own van before it was stolen.
Brejla gave Bledsoe anti-theft device for the steering wheel. Bledsoe is hoping the size of his new van will keep any thieves away.