Family with 2 disabled kids struggles to replace stolen van

CICERO, Ill. (WLS) -- A family in suburban Cicero is struggling to replace a wheelchair accessible van that was stolen and set on fire. They need it to transport their children.

Hugo and Lucy Trevino both manage to get around pretty well in their motorized wheelchairs. With lots of help from their mother and siblings, they live pretty independent lives. They both work full time jobs and make no excuses for the disability that often makes life more difficult. But the reality is that they do need a lot more medical attention and help getting around.

"It's not like me and my sister who have a disability can just jump in a friend's car," Hugo Trevino said.

For the last several years, that was never an issue because a family donated this specially outfitted Dodge Caravan with wheelchair ramp and capable of carrying the extra weight of two 300-pound wheelchairs. The seats were removed to make room for the chairs and medical equipment.

The siblings suffer from a genetic condition called spinal muscular atrophy, which causes severe muscular weakness and often shortens life expectancy. So when someone stole the van several months ago, they were devastated.

"You feel violated, your safety definitely feels like it's been taken away from you because the van got stolen right outside the front of our house," Hugo said.

Hugo manages to get to work now on public transportation, but it's much more difficult. Rain or cold often means he can't leave the house in his chair. Despite his need for independence, friends have set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for a new van.

"It's hard to even ask people to just give you money," Hugo said.

Police eventually found the stolen van burned and abandoned in a neighborhood on Chicago's South Side. They have yet to find whoever stole it.

Friends held a fundraiser Thursday night called "Overcoming Diversity Four Wheels At a Time" at Uncommon Ground on the city's Northwest Side.
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