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Outpouring of support for Coram mom whose SUV, son's wheelchair were stolen

A thief stole Roxanne Drayton's 2002 Ford Explorer from the driveway of her Coram home and also made off with her disabled son's wheelchair.

Roxanne Drayton of Coram talked with Newsday on Friday about how she is seeking the public's help to raise money to replace her stolen vehicle, which had a specialized wheelchair for her son, who has Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and seizures. The vehicle and wheelchair were stolen from her driveway last month. (Credit: Newsday / Shelby Knowles)

A Coram woman whose SUV was stolen along with her disabled son's wheelchair is receiving an outpouring of support, with Long Islanders donating thousands of dollars after her story went public Friday.

A swell of positive messages from those donors and others filled a GoFundMe page Roxanne Drayton had set up to raise money to cover the costs of the wheelchair and the SUV. Donors had contributed more than $13,000 as of shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday.

Drayton said Saturday she was surprised, thankful and deeply moved.

“It’s like a miracle to me. It’s touched me in a way that I just have to thank God,” Drayton said. “I have to thank God because I didn’t know what I was going to do.”  

Others have contacted Drayton offering to replace the wheelchair, while a local car dealership has even offered to replace her SUV.

Mark Brier, 71, the host and founder of “LAUGHS at the LIBRARY,” an East Meadow-based comedy program, said he was interested in putting on a comedy fundraiser to help Drayton and her son.

“We thought, ‘Why can’t we do something for them?’ ” said Brier. “It’s about doing a good thing. You gotta give back.”

Drayton's son Todd, 28, has Down syndrome and cerebral palsy and requires 24/7 support to survive. His only means of getting around is a special custom-built wheelchair, obtained by his mother through Medicaid. 

“Todd is my priority and he’s the most important thing to me,” said Drayton of her son.

A thief stole Drayton’s 2002 Ford Explorer from the driveway of her Coram home Nov. 8 after she left the car running with the keys in the ignition while preparing to pick up her son from Stony Brook University Hospital. The thief also made off with the wheelchair — worth about $8,000 — in the back of the SUV. 

Since her son returned from the hospital, the Draytons have been homebound. Without her car, Drayton has been unable to leave her home, as she has to constantly tend to Todd. Without his wheelchair, Todd has largely spent most of his time in his room. Whenever he needs to walk somewhere, Drayton said she has to hold both of his hands to help him move from one place to the other.

Suffolk County police said Saturday no arrests had been made yet and their investigation was still ongoing.

Drayton said Saturday that the last month has been difficult for them, but she has kept moving forward.

“I cried, I shut down," she said, "then I got back up and started again."

While grateful for the support, Drayton, a single mother who is a 24-hour-a-day caregiver for Todd, said she had not yet decided whether to accept the offers, as she would need to find someone to watch her son while she looked into them.  

In the meantime, Drayton said, she would continue to tend to her son’s needs. “That’s my life, one day at a time,” she said.

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