Idaho man who had wheelchair stolen 'overwhelmed with gratitude' after $20K donation
A Gofundme fundraiser for a Meridian, Idaho man who had his wheelchair stolen at a Boise State football game has surpassed $20,000 in donations.
Nathan Ogden and his wife Heather parked the wheelchair at the top of Section 8 Friday night to enjoy the game.
At halftime it was gone.
Late Monday, after a search party was held at the stadium to look for the wheelchair, local businessman Ryan DeLuca donated $20,000 to Ogden's Gofundme page.
"Let’s make a difference together," DeLuca said on social media. "This community has supported me and my team and we need to continue to build each other even when others try to bring us down."
Ogden says the money raised would be used to purchase a new chair and to support Chair the Hope, a group that provides wheelchairs for people in impoverished countries.
"Ryan, my wife and I are overwhelmed with gratitude," Ogden wrote. "We have such a passion for getting people into wheelchairs and especially in areas of the world that they have no choice or opportunity to access them. So many people will be given the blessing to hope again and become apart of their societies. We are truly blessed by every single donation, from $5 to thousands of dollars. Thank you for sharing in the dream that we have and helping us reach our enormous goal. God Bless."
Ogden says he will also match any donations made to the page up to an additional $20,000.
"After I saw that the search that they did the other day came out to not finding the chair and that it wasn't going to be found of course that compelled me to want to help like we all felt," DeLuca said. "So I was able to donate $20,000 to his campaign to get a new chair and also to get chairs for other people."
On Tuesday, Ogden and DeLuca met face to face for the first time. DeLuca says he has been following Ogden's story for awhile now and was honored to be able to meet him today.
"You feel for him in such a deep way and then to see him take that tragedy and turn it into something that has benefited so many people in the world," said DeLuca. "It's hard not to be inspired by that and to be able to be just a small little part of that today makes me very proud"
Ogden's stolen chair was custom made and costs $4,500. The wheelchairs delivered through Chair the Hope cost about $150 and Ogden says the donations will go a long way.
"Because I lost my chair, even if it was only for a moment until they were able to find something for me to sit in, I felt that again," said Ogden. "'Dang I can't move, I'm frozen I'm stuck' and I don't want anyone to live that way."
The wheelchair, pictured above, is a Quickie brand titanium wheelchair with custom chrome wheels that's still missing as of Tuesday.