An adaptive athlete had his wheelchair stolen from the beach in Hawaii yesterday. While Richard Julian was out for a surf, someone decided that stealing a wheelchair was an ok thing to do, which it is definitely not. “For guys like us in wheelchairs, it’s our lifeline,” said Bruno Hansen, a South African surfer who was out with Julian. “You’re taking away our legs again.”
Richard Julian lost the use of his legs in an accident 30 years ago. He surfed as a child, but after the accident, he went nearly 15 years without it. Confined to a wheelchair, it wasn’t until 1999 that Julian started surfing again–this time, though, it was a little different. “I got back into it when this adaptive wave-ski was invented,” he told The Honolulu Advertiser in 2007. “Now, I do top turns, bottom turns — the joy of flowing with the wave and the water is still there. It’s that same feeling I loved as a kid.”
According to Hawaii News Now, Julian and Hansen were surfing at Queen’s Beach on Friday morning, preparing for the upcoming 10th Annual Adaptive Surf Competition during Duke’s OceanFest when someone who can only be described as a total asshole grabbed his chair from Waikiki Beach. “A couple of the Beach Boys saw the chair being taken off Waikiki Beach,” Julian said, “and they actually thought somebody was going to set it on the side for me, but what really happened was somebody walked off with the chair.”
Thankfully, it was recovered a few short hours later when the Waikiki beach community got together and set out to find it. “It’s our only means of getting around,” he said. “If my wife wasn’t here and the Beach Boys weren’t here, I’d basically have to crawl to my car from the beach, which is impossible.”
The wheelchair was eventually found by a beach boy’s son after it had been left in the street a few miles away. It was returned to Julian, who filed a police report and got back to training for the event with a newfound faith in the surfing community. The culprit hasn’t been found by police yet, but hopefully karma catches up with him if they don’t.