Challenge Alaska lost adaptive cycling and other equipment worth nearly $100,000 in a robbery at its Anchorage location over the weekend. The organization is a nonprofit that helps people with disabilities participate in sports and outdoor recreation. The stolen equipment was a mix of standard bicycles and specially-made cycles for people with disabilities.
Nate Boltz is executive director of Challenge Alaska. He said the equipment is used several days a week for different programs.
“We have evening rides for individuals with physical disabilities, where we meet at various trailheads around Anchorage and just go out cycling for the evening,” said Boltz. “Some of this equipment is used for our disabled veterans groups and then we occasionally do a bigger trip.”
Several of the 15 stolen cycles have hand-operated pedals. For that reason, Boltz said, they’re easy to recognize. And he’s asking people to keep an eye out for the stolen equipment.
The organization is hoping the bikes are found. Otherwise, they’ll have to fundraise to replace them. Boltz said often it takes six months or more to get a new adaptive hand cycle. He said these cycles serve people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to them.
“All people have a right and a need for recreating,” said Boltz. “However, the cost of entry into recreation when you live, especially with physical disabilities, is much greater than the cost of entry to everybody else in the public.”
Boltz said anyone who has information about the theft can call the Anchorage Police Department. Photos of the missing bikes are posted on Challenge Alaska’s Facebook page.