Thief swipes wheelchair used by boy with cerebral palsy in Mayfair

MAYFAIR (WPVI) -- For 8-year-old Ryan Lewis, his electric, custom-fitted wheelchair was his only means of independence.

It also made his mom's life easier too, since they don't have a car and rely on public transportation to get around.

But, for the moment, things are going to be a little more difficult.

Ryan and his mom, Meghan, were running errands together on Saturday. They returned to their home in the Mayfair section of Philadelphia and Meghan carried Ryan inside.

The chair was briefly left outside, and Meghan never thought for a moment that someone would take it.

"I went upstairs and my window was open, and so I looked out the window and his chair was gone. Just like that," she said.

Things were already tough for Ryan and his mom. Ryan has cerebral palsy which severely limits his ability to walk and communicate.

Making matters worse, Ryan's dad, Rick Lewis, died suddenly after suffering a stroke four years ago.

Meghan says through all of it, she and Ryan have only grown closer.

"I need him and he needs me. There's days when I don't want to get up but Ryan says, 'Mom, I up. Now, you up.' Okay, we're up," she said.

Family friend Rita Hertzog says watching this mother-son duo persevere has been nothing short of inspiring.

"Watching her come as far as she's come with the loss of Rick has been a living breathing miracle each and every day," Hertzog said.

The good news is that the manufacturer of Ryan's $5,000 wheelchair has decided to replace it with a brand new one, free of charge.

The bad news is that since it was custom-fitted, it's going to take four to six months to re-create it.

So, for now, Meghan is employing the use of a special-needs stroller. Friends have started a fundraiser to get Meghan the money she needs to rent an electric wheelchair until the new one is finished.

In the meantime, she just hopes the person who did this will simply do the right thing and return Ryan's chair.

"I don't know why God does what He does. But I hope He has a real good plan for him," Meghan said.

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