Motorized wheelchair stolen from Ondelee Perteet

April 20, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Ondelee Perteet's wheelchair is worth about $20,000. He depends on it, and now it's gone.

It's almost unbelievable considering the challenges Perteet has overcome already in his life, that now he has yet another.

The motorized wheelchair that was stolen Saturday outside his home represented his independence. Without it, he is unable to go to school or virtually anywhere else without assistance. He's now left to hope whoever took it will find it in their heart to return it.

He's 19 years old, and despite the bullet lodged in his spine that makes him a quadriplegic, Perteet is able to function largely as most any other college freshman. At least he was, thanks to a special motorized wheelchair that was donated.

It allowed him to move around as he needed, to get around to and from school, to the store, almost anywhere he needs to go, until someone stole the chair from outside his home Saturday afternoon.

"It was just like somebody took my legs all over again because that's my transportation, that's the way I get around," he said.

Perteet left the chair in its usual spot Saturday to go to the store. But when he returned, it was gone. He has no idea why anyone would take it. The chair was custom made for him and worth nearly $20,000. Buying a new one is not an option for his family.

"I am begging anyone that took that chair, if they please return that chair," said Deetreena Perteet.

His mother says the chair is like a part of her son. She says he's lost without it.

He's a determined young man. ABC7 Eyewitness News has followed his story since he was first shot in September of 2009 by a man who was asked to leave a party.

Since then he's chosen to set new goals, and he's reaching them. He graduated high school and began college last fall. He gives motivational talks to other teens and wants to do more of that. He can get around with assistance in a regular wheelchair, but that's not a long-term solution.

"That's my transportation, those are my legs," he said.

"I won't ask any questions, I don't care. We just need the chair back so that my kid can continue to go on with his life," Deetreena Perteet said.

Perteet has limited use of his left hand and the wheelchair was customized to allow him to use that hand to move it.

Several years ago a specially equipped van for Perteet was stolen from outside the family's home. It was never returned. The family is praying for a better result with the chair.

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