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Bicycles used by special-needs children stolen from Heartspring

WICHITA — Someone has stolen a half-dozen bicycles used by special-needs children and adults at Heartspring, leaving officials at the agency feeling stung and woefully shorthanded.

Heartspring officials noticed the theft this morning at the campus in the 8700 block of East 29th Street North. Seven bicycles were missing, but one was found not far from the campus with a flat tire.

"For a special-needs school, to have something stolen, it's frustrating _ it's really deflating," said Katie Grover, director of marketing for Heartspring. "These kids work so hard to achieve a goal such as riding a bike.

"It's a pretty big goal _ something to be commended," she said. "For that to be taken away ..."

Learning how to ride a bike is a fundamental part of the physical education curriculum, Grover said, and it's routine to see Heartspring clients riding a bike on any given day.

"It's one of their favorite things to do," she said.

But the school only has two bicycles left following the theft.

"We're not a gated campus," Grover said. "We are home to these children. We don't want it to feel institutionalized."

Nevertheless, the bicycles were kept in a location not close to the campus perimeter.

"They really had to make an effort" to find the bicycles and make off with them, Grover said. "We have no idea who would have done this."

Heartspring will accept the donation of new or "gently used" adult bicycles to replace the stolen items _ or cash to purchase new bikes, Grover said.

Checks can be sent to Heartspring for the "bike fund," she said. Basic, "vanilla" bicycles can be brought to the school on 29th, she said.

For more on this story, see Tuesday's Eagle.

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