Anchorage theft keeps Special Olympics athletes from competing
Theft in Anchorage is keeping some Special Olympics athletes from participating in the sports they love.
Several of the athletes have had items taken from their cars recently, and even stolen from Special Olympic sporting events.
Friendly competition and fun are what the Special Olympics community is all about. But crime in the larger, Anchorage community is making that hard.
"It just means a lot more than their stuff that's being stolen," said Special Olympics athlete Graham Moore.
The 27-year-old has had his snowboard stolen twice in the last two years: Once from his car, and once at a Special Olympics competition.
"I went in to get registered and I had my board set-up like on the racks, and then I came back out and the snowboard that I got, which was really cool, that was like completely, just like gone," Moore said.
Without it, he had to switch teams -- leaving his teammates behind to compete for the skiers instead.
Others say they've had to shell out thousands, unexpectedly, to get back in the game.
"It upsets me because they can't snowboard or anything and it makes me want to cry," said 46-year-old Christopher Vance, a member of the snowboarding team.
Vance has had just about everything stolen but his board. All of his gear, a limited edition bag and even his signature helmet cover -- the reason his teammates nicknamed him "shark."
"I forgive you if somebody they stole them, I forgive them," Vance said.
Luckily, his friends stepped in with a hand-made replacement.
"Special Olympics is about, it is a friendship, and integrity," Vance explained.
"I feel bad for them because it takes away from something fun that they get to participate in in the winter and yeah, it's just not fair," said snowboarding coach Erick Steamer.
The theft costs the athletes more than money.
"It's kind of like taking away their dignity," said Moore.
Now, the athletes have a message for the people stealing their stuff.
"If you have a chance to bring it back, I would like to have it back, and I would like to see it again someday," Vance said.
Moore, who's 6-foot-11-inches tall says he's having to special order a board his size. When he does get the new one, he plans to start locking it up everywhere he goes.
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