Family donates wheelchair to Phoenix woman in wake of theft

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Generous 3TV viewers have come through for a woman whose custom wheelchair -- her only way to get around -- was stolen from the carport of her Phoenix home last week.

Police said on Feb. 26 they received a call from Darlene Lovitt, who said that her sister’s wheelchair had been stolen from the carport of their home near Maryland and 39th Avenue.

Darlene Lovitt is the legal guardian of her sister Marlene Lovitt, who is a paraplegic due to a brain injury.

Darlene told police that she had cleaned her sister’s wheelchair that morning, and placed it in the carport to dry. When she went to check on it an hour later, the non-motorized wheelchair, valued at about $5,000, was gone.

Darlene said the wheelchair had been custom-made for her sister, and it is Marlene’s only way to get around. Without the chair, Marlene was confined to her bed.

On Sunday, the Olson family donated a motorized wheelchair with the help of the Arizona Spinal Cord Injury Association, which maintains a "closet" of equipment for emergencies like this.

"We just thank God there are people like them that are out there that would help somebody like Marlene that really, really needs it," Lovitt said.

The donated chair will help Marlene get around until she can get another chair customized to her needs.