Gear stolen from special needs baseball team

Posted at 11:52 PM, Apr 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-28 00:12:38-04

A baseball team of special needs children is devastated after their equipment was stolen out of a parent’s car in Lehigh Acres.

The team is one of eight Challenger Baseball League teams that serves more than one hundred children with disabilities.

“The down syndrome journey turns a momma bear into a rock-solid grizzly, and it does every step of the way,” Barbara Johnson said.

Her 17-year-old son Jeffrey has Down Syndrome, and plays baseball for the Red Sox, one of the Challenger Baseball League teams.

Jeffrey said baseball is his love.

“Me hit a home run,” Jeffrey told Four in Your Corner’s Lisa Greenberg.

Johnson had the team’s gear in her car before it was broken into and ransacked. The gear bag filled with nine bats, ten gloves, ten helmets, two T-ball set ups was stolen.

“Challenger baseball has a motto: we may be challenged, but we’re not defeated,” Johnson said.

She said the stolen gear won’t defeat the team, and explained what happened to her car.

“Someone smashed the passenger side window. It was parked in our driveway,” Johnson said.

She said Jeffrey was devastated.

“He realized it was gone and of course he said, ‘Oh no, oh no, oh no, mom," Johnson said.

A family friend, Jennifer Meyers, wanted to do something about it, so she created a GoFundMe page to encourage people to donate money.

“He’s such a sweet boy, and it’s awful,” Meyers said. “We have to do something as a community to get this stuff back for these kids. It’s just not fair.”

Johnson has a message for whoever stole the equipment:

“Man up, or woman up, and please return it. That’s all I ask. Just return it.”

The Challenger League is having a Golf Tournament fundraiser on May 14th, where they’re hoping to raise some extra money to replace the equipment. For more information, call the organization’s President, Rocky Barron: (239) 292-7857.

Click here to donate to the Challenger Baseball League.