When Northern Londoner Dom Hyams left his motorized wheelchair outside of his friend's home for the evening, he didn't think anything of it. His friend's home isn't wheelchair accessible, so he didn't have a choice, but doing so had never been an issue. Until yesterday, that is.
In a half hour's time, someone allegedly had taken his chair without a trace. The chair, which Hyams calls "his legs," are the only way he can independently get around. He's had a condition since birth called osteogenesis imperfecta that makes his bones brittle and a charity had donated the £17,500 ($27,000) chair to him five years ago.
And between 7:30 and 8 a.m., it was gone.
"He went to put me in the chair and it wasn't there," Hyams told A Plus. "My wheelchair is everything to me. A part of me wasn't there."
But just when he thought the world was awful, friends and strangers quickly proved him wrong. All thanks to Facebook and Twitter — and a fundraiser for a new chair with a total beyond $38,787.50.
Hyams, who works for the app assist-Mi, which helps people with disabilities get around, didn't give up when the police closed the case after just four hours. He knew how strong the power of social media really is, so he took to his Facebook page to spread the word.
"Please share this as far and wide as possible, I am in shock but want to do all I can to track it down," he wrote. "As you know my wheelchair is my legs. If you have any information contact me on here ..."
A few of his well-known friends with large social followings also stepped in and tweeted about the wheelchair as well.
Then it spread like wildfire.
He created the post this Monday and 24 hours later it got more than 10,000 shares.
"Everyone around me did everything they could," he said, including his sister, Holly, who helped him set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for a brand-new chair. He can still get around thanks to a temporary chair donated by the Brittle Bone Society, a UK charity that helps people with Dom's condition, but without a chair of his own that actually fits him properly, he's immobile.
Holly explained in the post just how vital his wheelchair is to him:
Having it taken away from him is devastating, as he has now completely lost his independence, which is the most important thing to him. He has not only had his wheelchair stolen from him, but he also now cannot drive, as his specially adapted van, adapted and originally supplied by Motability, was made specifically to work with that wheelchair. This also means he is unable to go into his work.
In a day's time, they have surpassed their goal of £25k, or roughly $38,787.50. They announced that the rest of the donations will go to The Brittle Bone Society and Action For Kids, who helped Dom when he was in need.
Now he's just completely overwhelmed — in a good way.
"Thank you thank you thank you. We cannot thank you enough."
Enjoy your new wheelchair, Dom!